Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It rained all night on the tin roof, again. After a hearty breakfast of taro root, tropical squash, boiled plantains, and fried salami I took off for the farm in the rain. I stopped at Antonio’s house to find six of his nine kids playing happily with ratty wooden chairs and an empty bottle of canola oil. Tony, 8, who goes by Tongo is one of my favorites. He got bored and decided to fix the nylon string seat of the chair by tightening the loose ends. When he was done, he sat on the ‘new’ chair with such pride it made me smile and brightened the dim room.

It feels like the rain will never stop. The coffee cherries are exploding with water and falling off the trees. As a farmer, I’ve been taught to say the whole crop is lost.

So I found a farmer, Fello, who is going to sell me some ripe coffee cherries. Quality coffee is a new concept for this part of the Dominican Republic because there has not been any price motive for quality, which means there is always been one price regardless of quality. They pick the coffee, de-pulp (when its convenient), wash (the next day usually), dry it for a couple days, and sell it to an intermediary. The farmers want a better price for coffee, but I don’t know if this coffee will be able to pay its own bills. I hold a higher price in front of them like the proverbial carrot, but they know I’m asking for 3 times the current work. The price is only ½ more than the current rate . . . you do the math. Why did I buy this farm?

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