Saturday, June 12, 2010

Copan Ruinas

After the day of tree delivery audits, Marvin (Honduras GM) and I found ourselves in the colonial town of Copan Ruinas, just 10km from the Guatemala border. As the name would suggest, the town is known for its nearby Mayan ruins. The ruins are known to be small but beautiful and less trafficked than other large sites in Mesoamerica suck as Tikal. This is all hearsay to me because we arrived 10 minutes after they closed the gates to the ruins and we had an early start the next morning... Some other time I suppose. Nonetheless, the town is beautiful and not to hot because of its altitude near 1000m. Unlike San Pedro Sula or many other Honduran towns where security is a huge concern, one can walk freely in the streets of Copan Ruinas without worry. This in itself was theraputic for me.

Another excellent feature of Copan Ruinas was the availability of good beer. I took advantage of a beer on tap from a local brewery called D&D. They do West Coast micro style ales. Later on I enjoyed a Hoegaarden.

Here is a shot of an approaching storm cloud with women running fritangas in the foreground.

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Delivering fine cocoa trees to producers

Since the rains have come, we can at last begin placing our inventory of fine cocoa grafts in the field with the producers who have joined the Xoco project. Our inventory between the three countries is 780,000 plants, but most of them are still WIP ("works in progress"). About 100,000 are ready for delivery. In truckloads of 2,400-3,200 (depending on the size of the truck), we dispach the trees to the remote locations where our producers are based. In addition to the logistical challenge, we have to be very careful not to damage any plants in the process. In 2009, the delivery process was a disaster as quality assurance was not part of the equation. Many tree deaths were caused by a sloppy delivery process. This year we have turned this on its head. I would say our current delivery process is best-in-class! This week I was in Honduras precisely to accompany and audit the deliveries and ensure that we are on track to meet our obligations to producers.

On a side note, I am thrilled by our advances in nursery production. Our production manager, Josue, has really taken ahold of the production chain. In fact, this week we set a record in Honduras for the most trees grafted in a week in one nursery: 30,000. In 2009, the best week was probably around 10,000.

Here we are in the departamento de Copan on the property of one of our producers. In the background you can see Parque Nacional Cerro Azul. (By the way, this week it only rained twice so the weather was fantastic for deliveries. The temperature was humid and high-80s: cool and comfortable by Northern Honduras standards...)

From left-to-right: Victor (Xoco's Delivery QA Manager), Me, Ruben (Technician from the NGO we are collaborating with in the region), Oscar (Producer), and Juan Carlos (Xoco Field Technician)

Delivering at another site...
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The crew

Eating burgers at Ferry Building plaza.

Thanks for lending me the hoodie, Jay. It was freezing (around 60 degrees).
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Piña warmed by the sun

Visiting a farm in Izabal, Guatemala, about 30 minutes outside the city of Puerto Barrios...

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