It took 18 hours, two flights and a working layover in ATL, but AMRDI has officially made it to Nicaragua: AMRDI Director of Research Matt Klick, intern Alyssa Leib, board members Mike Zerinskas and Polina Yakusheva, and me, Erik Eisele, here to document the trip.
We met Ben Weiner, CEO of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers, just past customs at the Managua airport. It was late and we'd all been in the air and traveling for 12 hours or more, Ben included, so we gathered bags, picked up the rental car and headed for our hotel.
Over dinner Ben filled us in on Nicaragua's historical and political past, details such as how the country swaps with Bolivia as the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere (behind Haiti), as well as the challenges his organization faces running a sustainable coffee farm and an export business for high end American roasters.
Ben has been working in coffee in Nicaragua for 10 years, and he's offered to serve as local liaison to get us into the coffee growing region and make connections with the small scale growers and pickers. Our goal is to deploy a survey among those local Nicaraguans, part of our Coffee Lives initiative, a research project designed to quantify social and economic challenges faced by coffee farming communities around the world. We'll be looking to collect data on poverty and seasonal food insecurity with the long-term aim of developing solutions to these issues.
We head into the mountains tomorrow. Stay tuned!