Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chiquimula Trip 2

Today, I travelled with Juan to Chiquimula, to visit the peanut storage site again.  I talked to the manager there, Freddie, who gave us a lot of useful information about peanuts from different parts of Guatemala.  The three main regions where they receive peanuts from in the Chiquimula storage site are: Masatenango (aka Costa Sur) in the southern Guatemala, Chiquimula in the middle, and Petén in northern Guatemala.

Juan and Freddie discussing Guatemalan peanuts
 in the Chiquimula storage site
I also learned from Freddie that the quality of the peanuts varies drastically depending on the region that they come from.  For quality control at the storage site in Chiquimula, they pick out the bad nuts that look black/brown to throw away, which they cannot sell at the local markets.  For each 50 lbs bag of peanuts, the percent of “bad” peanuts which they throw out from each region are:

Masatenango (Costa Sur):  1 % bad
Chiquimula: 0.75 % bad
Petén: 55% bad

By far, Petén produces the largest percent of bad peanuts, and they have to throw out more than half of their peanuts, while the other two regions produce > 99% “good” nuts.  According to Freddie, the cause for this large disparity in peanut quality is due to differences in the climate, because peanut fields in Petén are exposed to more water and humidity, which can increase pest/fungi problems with the crops.  We obtained samples of peanuts from all three regions, which we will send to the lab in Guatemala City for aflatoxin testing at the end of the week. 

After visiting the peanut farm in Chiquimula, Juan and I went to a large warehouse in Chiquimula city, to pick up a delivery of juice boxes for the Estanzuela local schools.  Tomorrow, for my last day in Estanzuela, I am going to finish all of the aflatoxin testing with the UNS and UV scanner, try to get a few pictures of peanuts inside the UV scanner, and prepare some more samples to bring back to Guatemala City for lab testing.  The lab that Carlos is using in Guatemala City costs Q 800 per aflatoxin test, which is about $100 USD, and we probably plan to run about 8-12 tests total.  Although this is fairly expensive, the lab results should give an exact concentration of aflatoxin levels in ppb, so it is definitely worth it for the data that we will obtain.  

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