My work was made easier by the fact that the entire community is behind the project -- this is the best possibility for making money that they have ever experienced. The Winrock and IDE people are also working very hard with the Tharu -- they traveled with me to all my stops and will help with the implementation of my suggestions.
Those suggestions were:
1. Cool down the storage facility in whatever way possible
2. Improve the post harvest containers used for oil storage
3. Appropriate labeling of all containers including common name, botanical name, date distilled, field the herb material came from and any miscellaneous data that might be pertinent
4. Tighter planting of field crops
5. Using cover crops for both fertility and weed control
6. Perform field trials using irrigation to improve production
7. Perform field trials on one or two new crops in the coming year
8. Bring in an organic certifier, have them explain everything, and then get certified by US and European standards
Since they sell directly to a local trader they don’t need much assistance with marketing and sales at this time, but I emphasized the importance of maintaining high quality to help the trader promote their product effectively.
There are many ways Aura Cacia will be able to support this project. Certainly the GC analysis and quality expertise we're offering will help them produce product that can bring top prices. A financial contribution to help them purchase simple farming equipment could significantly increase botanical crops and therefore oil production. Although they are very small, they fit our concepts of sustainable purchasing so well that we might want to pursue the possibility of Well Earth certification.
We can make a significant contribution to the success of this project by purchasing some oils from the Tharu community distilling operation. They produce some oils we carry at very competitive prices, and even the smallest purchase can benefit these people tremendously. While I believe my advice was helpful to them, an increase in sales of their oils is the key element in this operation successfully reducing the poverty of the region. The amounts would be small and somewhat inefficient for us to deal with, but seems more than worth it, considering the improvement it would make in the situation of the Tharu.