The next leg of our Nicaraguan trip took us to Achuapa, a small town to the West of Esteli. The co-operatives in this area produce organic and fair trade sesame seed oil, and export to commercial buyers, such as The Body Shop for use in cosmetics.
We had the opportunity to sit in on ‘La Asemblea’ the general meeting of the managers from the local co-operatives. Were also taken to the processing factory and heard more about the story of the sesame seed growers. The move into the production of sesame seed oil had been an accidental one; after they were left with a surplus, they quickly learned how to export with support from Anita Roddick, Founder of The Body Shop. The co-operatives have continued to expand their exports, selling toasted sesame seed oil to the Japanese market and they are now looking to diversify into other crops. The community also have access to a co-operative finance institution which provides small loans and local banking facilities, the first of its kind in Achuapa.
In the evening we spent time with the Raleigh International volunteers, some of whom were finishing the day’s trek in the town. We made a dash to nearby town of El Sauce to collect the ‘Raleigh Rations’ and on the return journey we were stopped in our tracks by the second flat tyre of the day! Later on, we arrived in ‘El Cacao’ a community close to Achuapa, where we were lucky enough to spend the night with a local family and learn more about Raleigh International’s community projects.
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