This past week was jam-packed so I’ll get right to it. We left Managua at 5:30am Monday morning and headed northeast to Matagalpa/Jinotega (per my previous blog, these regions account for almost 2/3 of Nicaraguan coffee production). Over the course of three days, we met with two of the top three exporters of Nicaraguan coffee (we will meet the third this coming week), cooperatives (which can also serve as direct exporters), associations, and two unplanned trips to both an individual coffee producer’s farm and a brand new coffee nursery. Thursday through Saturday we had training back in Managua with Orlando and Danilo, two TechnoServe consultants, covering the Lean Canvas Methodology that next week we will be teaching to producers. I told you it was jam-packed!

In our meetings, we specifically asked questions regarding demand (where is this coming from), price (conventional vs. specialty), premiums (specialty vs. various certifications and how much is given back to the farmer), and quality (who does the cupping process). We found the exporters (OLAM and Mercon) to be the most direct with us in their answers, providing specific prices and quantities. While helpful, they also told us they pass on the entire premium and offer feedback to the producers (most of whom are small farmers, having 25 acres or less), and this I am just not so sure I entirely believe.

Cooperatives were a bit more sheepish, often having long-winded, roundabout answers. We did have a very informative meeting with ALDEA, a coop that focuses on micro financing, but they are certainly in the minority in that they have their accounting in order and actually use futures contracts for insurance. Many coops struggle with access to resources and finances, resulting in poor organization and efficiency, which is why I believe they don’t actually have answers to the questions we asked. One coop took us on an impromptu trip to visit a farm; the family was so gracious, kind, and eager to show us around. Aside from growing coffee, they also had livestock (it is very common for a farmer to have more than one source of income).

The interactive training we received will be utilized for our nursery certification project.

The Volunteer

Tana Megalos

Associate-Internal Advisor Consultant, GWM

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