Rainy season is finally over (with the exception of getting caught in 2 rainstorms last week) and this means that activity is starting to pick back up in our area. Farmers are beginning to harvest their coffee, mills are getting prepared to process coffee cherries and the roads are starting to be navigable again. Now that people are out and about, we've got a lot of things going on.
First, we're about to begin construction on our new training center in the village. The training center will be a place where we can bring farmers for agricultural trainings, cup and evaluate coffee from the community, as well as have a place where we can sleep when we need to stay in the village. Construction is set to begin November 1st.
Secondly we are processing some coffee this year. Our goal is to export several tons to the US next year, so we are using this year as an opportunity to figure out our systems and refine our processing flow. We still have a lot of construction to do in order to handle the volume we need next year, so having some of the basics figured out will hopefully cut down on problems in the future.
The biggest thing we are working on is conducting community surveys in our area. One of the largest problems we are facing is knowing what kind of coffee the farmers have. Different coffee varieties have different qualities, tastes and different price points in a quality focused market. Because farmers in our area have only had access to a volume market, they usually sell all their coffee together for one price. Our goal is to buy their higher quality coffee, process it well and then send it to America next year. We are attempting to track down at least 60 tons of the good stuff, which is A LOT of work.
One day a week we've devoted ourselves to conducting community surveys in order to try and solve this problem. Basically, we have written out several questions like:
- What kind of coffee do you have?
- How much did you produce last year?
- How much were you paid for your coffee last year?
- Would you be interested in planting different kinds of coffee in the future?
So far this has been great for gathering information and also building relationships with people. We try to end the time with asking the farmer if they are having any problems and if there is anything we can pray for. There is almost always a request for their health or someone in their family.
Please continue to pray for us as we go around and visit with farmers over the next several months.