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Entered By: Mark
Entry Date: 2013-03-28 13:20:55
Subject: Turning Point on Farm

In Honduras, plantain bananas are prepared in several common ways. At a restaurant they are cut into thick wedges, fried and served with the "plato tipico" (meat, beans, plantains and some kind of salad). Some plantains are sliced and added to soup. Another form is to slice them thinner, fry until crispy and sell them as chips, called "tajadas".

Yesterday the boys and I did some 'market research' in a practical form. I bought an electrical slicer last week to quickly slice plantains into thin strips. The boys sliced, fried and bagged up tajadas for about six hours. While the yield was not great, I would call it a success for two major reasons.

One reason is that the boys are on the forefront of a factory we hope to begin when the new building is completed. The factory will be used to create jobs for local parents. We identified the weak link in our production, and that is that we need to be able to cook more tajadas at a time and speed each batch up a bit more. We are already procuring a gas stove, which will allow us to cook more, faster, and also we won't have to worry with power outages (so long as we have sufficient plantains sliced up beforehand).

Second was the market test. The boys were able to sell the tajada bags, each of which contained a single plantain banana sliced into chips, for 5 Lempiras each. The first store bought all that they produced and told them that other wholesalers price them at 6 Lempira each and the bags are much smaller. We were greatly encouraged by this response. We can still raise the price another Lempira and offer a better value to the client, giving us much better margin to compensate future employees with.

Seven years ago we had a goal of "excellence in agriculture". Although our original goal was five years and I would not say we are yet at the excellence level, I do see some promising signs and finally something that is profitable. Besides that, we really need an outlet for the 100+ plantain bananas we are harvesting on a daily basis. We realistically expect the plantain harvest to grow to 250+ daily by next year, based on new plantings in a better field.

Then again, seven years is a pretty good sign that we're receiving help from above. 

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