Well my last week came to a close at CABI. Like many of the other Charity Insight participants have written, I also feel that the experience has been tremendous. In my PhD, I had come across many articles and books written by CABI and so the opportunity to work briefly in their office was a fulfilling personal experience. I also learned a lot from working with Peter Baker about the challenges facing the coffee sector, the other organizations involved, and some of his perceptions on how to address the challenges it is facing.
The modelling was very challenging as I had limited experience in Excel VBA and Monte Carlo simulation, however, it is amazing what you can find online to show you the way once you know what you are trying to implement. In my final bit of the internship, I worked with project counterparts at HRNS in Hamburg to add some stochasticity to their cash flow forecasts for different coffee plot scenarios. This work is still ongoing, but I think we have demonstrated the utility of considering decision-making with uncertainty and the potential impact of probabilistic events like Roya. The key is to show stakeholders that farmers face difficult choices when deciding which coffee practices to follow and investments to make on their plots. While a deterministic model quite easily shows the optimum choice is for example certified coffee sales through farmer organizations, adding in uncertainty to price and potential losses due to disease makes the optimal decision dependent on how much risk you can take on and what you believe about the likelihood and severity of a loss event like Roya. This tool is in its infancy, but with development will hopefully aid in the strategy and planning for extension work with coffee farmers.
I’d like to thank Helen and Amy at Imperial for selecting me to participate in this wonderful program. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience and developed some new skills in project management as well as technical skills in Excel. Thanks as well to CABI for hosting me for such a brief period and especially to Peter for all the support throughout this past month.