Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011
It's been a fine first day in Tanzania. Started out with a typical bad assumption on my part --- namely I believed the hotel manager who told me a shuttle would arrive at 8am that would go to the Ngoroto Hotel where the EAFCA conference is. Wrong. By 8:15am he had changed his story and was telling me and another EAFCA delegate (from Japan) that we would have to pay for our own way out there.
So we got a taxi and that was probably the best thing. I needed to go into town to buy a phone and the taxi driver was very helpful. My new-found Japanese friend helped me negotiate prices, too - we had to buy the phone, then the SIM card, then get minutes on the SIM card then exchange dollars for Tanzanian Schillings. Doing all that afforded a peek into "real life" in Arusha that other conference attendees are not seeing.
Finally, around 10am we were at the beautiful Ngoroto Hotel and Resort and attending the conference. The photo shows me with Mark Stell (Portland Roasting), Elliot from Schluter (CH), Phyllis Johnson (BD Imports). What I love about these conferences is meeting producers like Loy and Jane from Uganda (other photo).
The conference included seminars on expected volumes, pricing and coffee market issues for the coming year. There was, naturally, a lot of focus on East African countries. I was very intrigued by the Nescafe Plan presented by Gary Milsted of Nescafe. The big brand companies are talking like they really want to make a difference at the smallholder level. The exhibit area is refreshingly different -- all the booths are out in the open air!
The dinner this evening was also in the open air (under tents) at the Rivertree Hotel. Very enjoyable company, including roasters from 3 continents, farmers, and CQI professionals.