Ten days ago, a middle-aged man from Gabane knocked on DLG BW’s factory door. He asked for the manager saying he’d heard that “people here buy wild harvest Marula fruit.” Hungara, our manager at DLG BW, smiled and nodded in response to the man’s question. While the man only had 150 kilograms (about 330 lbs.) of Marula fruit to offer, he had taken a major logistical piece of the supply chain out of the equation. Typically, DLG BW sent their representative to villages far outside of Gabarone to collect Marula fruit and transport them back to the factory. This is an important strategic step, however it accumulated expenses from transportation, hotels and unexpected vehicle repairs that can often occur on the unpaved roads of northern Botswana.
The very next day, a few more individuals showed up to the factory saying they had wild harvested Marula to sell as well. Collectively they offered ½ ton of natural Marula. A few days later, we received 3 tons, a few days after that; 6 tons, and yesterday; 12 tons. The word has spread throughout the Gabane area and people are bringing more and more Marula by whatever means available to them.
At one point, Hungara looked out at the factory gate to see two young boys pushing a wagon with two large bags of natural Marula. Hungara spoke with them, learning that they had pushed that wagon 4 kilometers to arrive at the factory.
Another day, Tris Lahti, one of the owners, looked out the window to find two men pushing a pickup truck filled to the brim with Marula fruit. They were on their way to our factory when their pickup ran out of gas. Their solution was to push the pickup to our site, sell the Marula and use that money to refill their truck. They were thrilled when their compensation far exceeded the cost to fill their tank of gas.
In merely ten days, DLG BW has received over 35 tons of natural, wild harvested Marula from over 50 individuals which pumped over P40,000 (about US$4,000) directly into the local economy. In a country where the unemployment rate hovers around 25%, this is a significant opportunity that many locals have capitalized on. Additionally, with the influx of local
residents approaching us with Marula, this allows us to pass along those logistical savings to the local population, raising their compensation per kilo of Marula. With the Botswana school year beginning soon, and the end of summer in sight, this extra income can be used to pay for school fees, winter coats and gloves or food to feed their family for a couple weeks. This high response rate from local villagers is promising and helps us all envision how DLG’s processing of Marula will help fulfill our mission of empowerment through commerce.