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September 17:  
I spent much of the day preparing for tomorrow’s training session with all of our relay agents. These are the folks who live in the villages where we purchase our whole 
Baobab Fruit and 
Neem seeds.  They work closely with the tree owners to ensure fidelity to the rules of organic production to the T.  They distribute materials such as sacks to the producers, do the weighing and pay the producers directly at the points of collection.  These folks are a vital link in Atacora’s supply chain, and we need to make every effort to understand one and other and communicate openly.  
September 18:  
We had invited the relay agents for an 8 o’clock start, so the meeting actually started at 10:30 and lasted until 1:30.  AHH, Africa!  I opened the meeting with greetings of welcome in local language (Ditammari), then proceeded (in French, with Jacob
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and Antoine translating) to revisit the foundations of Atacora’s
 Fair Partnership model, which are the crux of the biscuit, and bring us all together under the same banner.

I then put forth something I truly believe in:  that the key to a bright future of Africans’ own design is already in their hands, and that waiting for external solutions and financing is no longer viable.  The rich natural resources such as 
Baobab have huge economic potential.  The hard working and ambitious people have only to understand how to condition the products to the satisfaction of a global clientele. Part of this conditioning is being certified organic in today’s market.

Onward I went to the norms of organic production.  The relays had been previously trained in this domain, but it is always important to revisit such crucial lessons.  The soils around the trees, harvest methods, storage, transport, packaging and export were all covered in


We moved on to a more interactive phase of the session, where everyone shared their views and experiences of their roles, responsibilities, actions and compensation of the relay agents.  We invited 2 relays from a fonio (ancient local grain) production endeavor that has been around for several years to share their experiences as well.  We transparently shared our financial picture and thus justified the prices and the relay’s percentages.  We made it abundantly clear that the global 
Baobab market is WIDE OPEN, and we can all be prosperous if we can really amp up production.

Near the end we needed to hear from each and every relay about the difficulties they face in the field, and to suggest how we might address and resolve them. This was a very animated session, but I think we all understand each other well.  

Merveille and Sarah Ghanaba resized 600

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