Wednesday, 6 AM, in the bus for a field visit to nomad tribes producing dairy. We arrive in a village with typical African huts. A herd of cows slowly grazes in the distance. Water shortage is a short term problem for these people. That’s why FC Wamco has installed a well and a solar panel driven water station. The farmers are very satisfied with this extra service. Besides that, the company supplies milk cans and help with transportation to local gathering points in some cases. Right before we continue our trip, the women arrive with buckets of fresh milk. We watch with interest how they pour the milk into containers. In these communities, the men manage the livestock for meet production. Women can milk the cows and earn some extra income. In the past, milk production was just for own use and surplus was sold to local cheese producers. The price and extra services from FC Wamco seem to be more lucrative, as the gathering point we visit next is crowded. Women from nearby bring the milk buses by foot. From further away women on mopeds arrive. This gathering point has been running for just a couple of months, but you can already see it stimulates activity.
We laugh when our curious eyes and cameras meet a group of young women with mobile phones. The extra income from milk production shows its first effect on welfare in this area. On the way back, the government officials – who were somewhat reticent on forming a partnership with FC and us – are now talking excitingly about the activity they just saw.
Seeing is believing!
We spend the afternoon planning the coming months. The past days have clearly created consensus on what actions to take first and the enthusiasm is great. Too bad IFDC and I have to tone it down, because we’re not sure whether we will have the means to take on our part of the project. We see how more and more Dutch private companies look at developing markets with growing interest. Today showed how our technology and knowledge really could have economic impact within two months. A win-win situation, as private companies actually have something to offer this sector, for example cooling storage at the gathering points we visited. Through programs like this they can adjust their western approach to local conditions. It helps them to get ready for the future; developing markets are full of opportunities. With a helping hand from the government, these experiences can be accelerated and their impact expanded.
I hope examples like this find their way to Het Catshuis as well. Foreign markets have been increasingly important to us for more than 500 years. If we don’t want to get stuck in stagnant European markets, we should definitely endorse and stimulate economic growth in developing markets.