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In early 2014, I visited Burkina Faso for the first time, looking for organic dried mango and a strong ethical producer group.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, landlocked in West Africa and home to more than 17 million people. Despite occasionally unpredictable rains, it is an excellent mango growing region. During the 5 hour bus ride from Ouagadougou (the capital) to Bobo-Dioulasso the horizon was constantly full of beautiful mango trees. Yet the same problem exists in Burkina Faso as much of Africa - post harvest loss. Despite excellent mangos farmers just don't have anywhere to sell them. Drying is the answer.
This summer will be the 3rd season which Mavuno Harvest is working with Burkinabe farmers. In 2015 I am proud to announce that we purchased one third of all their dried mangos. We hope to grow together (we're planning to increase our purchases by 4X this year alone) over the coming years thanks to excellent mangos, strong and smart producers and our great customers in the U.S.
Because Mavuno Harvest is a Fair Trade company, a small percentage of what we pay farmers goes directly into a fund which can only be used for socially beneficial community projects. As we grow together, the fund will grow larger and larger, enabling us to do some awesome projects together. The following are the projects we were able to accomplish in 2015 using that fund:
1. Construction of a primary school in Toussiana - A small farming village home to about 300 people, including 200 children. The current school is 5 KM away. Now kids don't have to walk so far to get an education! A 60 person classroom has been built. In the following years, 3 more classrooms will be built, along with an office and warehouse.
2. Our producer contact bought a new motorbike, making it easier for him to travel to and from the co-op farmers:
3. The village of Mangoso has decided to use its fair trade premium to repair the well in Wempea village. This will allow clean drinking water for the 200 inhabitants.
4.The Yirikanu co-op used their fair trade premium to purchase school materials for the 120 local school children.
5. The Kottoallaman co-op used the premium to repair two well curbstones, which will improve and protect the quality of water their for the 280 inhabitants.
All of these awesome projects. Nothing is charity, these are all the fruits of hard work growing and selling mangos. Farmers are not only selling their entire harvests profitably, they are also now able to access clean water and education. I can't wait to see what this looks like next year, and the years beyond.