September 26, 2009
For the past two weeks I have been a guest of ACDI/VOCA analyzing the potential for Ecuador coffee production. As you may know, each client we work with we sign an NDA thus never post a reference to the client. In this case, working for an NGO I feel it’s best to spread the word that Ecuador is making an initial effort to explore the potential for improving their place in the ranks amongst coffee producing countries.
I arrived in Quito late on Saturday night, the 12th of September, shuttled to hotel. As usual, the first night away I typically don’t sleep well, so I arose early to go for a run. Note to self; check altitude before running in a new city. Quito being one of the highest capitol cities (top of the Andes Mountains) in the Americas, quickly handed me my ego, and by quickly I mean less than 2 miles, I hit the wall. So, the Sunday was spent adjusting to the altitude, and not venturing far from the confines of my room. On to work Monday, PRODEL office. meet & greet, and explanation of how the project works and who the people involved are.
Next day, on a plane to Loja in south Ecuador to visit farms. I am immediately taken by the number of small farms and the lack of agri-knowledge most possess. I find out later, that this is problematic of the culture, some of the newer more specifically Colombian farming practices have been shared, simply not grasped. However, a glint of hope at least one in each region surfaced, PRODEL identified these farmers and will continue to work with those to make examples out of them for the other farmers to see the success and hopefully replicate. Friday we flew back to Quito headed west for Guayaquil, spending the day visiting exporters, and other relevant players in the value chain. Weekend off the grid to distill the info acquired during the week .
The second week was spent speaking at forums, collecting information and exchanging ideas. Sort of a summit of exporters, producers, and other’s directly related all in a agreement that the current path for Ecuador needs altered. The importing of Vietnamese Robusta to supplement the export to Colombia for soluable coffee is symptomatic of the need for change. My final report has been submitted with a 5 year outline to turn the coffee sector around, will keep you updated.
p.s. Thanks to ACDI/VOCA, AED, PRODEL, USAID, CORPEI and the people of Ecuador.