Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Global View : Madagascar & Malawi, Africa

 Dateline 9 March 2011: “Thank you for your e-mail. We have not yet finished distilling the ylang-ylang oil. It's now 2.10 am here, near flowing small river and mountain. We are still waiting for the oil to be finished. I really enjoy distilling ylang-ylang oil here. Here is surrounded by exotic aroma. I will send you photo of the ylang water very soon.”  ~Prima Fleur supplier in Madagascar

“Both the Ylang Ylang and Geranium oils we sell come from countries that need so much support economically,” explains Marianne Griffeth, owner and lead chemist for Prima Fleur.

She continues, “The Ylang Ylang and one of our other Bourbon Geranium essential oils come from Madagascar. We have worked with the same family-owned Malagasy business for almost 20 years. We've been through some very tough times with political revolutions, hurricanes, and civil wars. We hosted the ambassador from Madagascar when he visited here. We purchased their entire production of their very first distillation of geranium about 18 years ago and have bought it every year since. 

Picking ylang ylang flowers in Madagascar
"Taking the oil" from the ylang ylang distillation

One of our Bourbon Geranium essential oils is from Malawi, Africa.  Malawi is one of the very poorest counties in Africa with a high incidence of HIV/AIDS. We work with people from Malawi who are trying to develop schools, energy plants, water-treatment plants, etc. Still in its early stages, the geranium project helps so many people. For holiday gifts last  year, we bought desks for an entire classroom at one of the schools and told our customers that was their gift! We are just about to receive their third distillation of beautiful, emerald-green, rose geranium oil. 

Rose geranium growing in Malawi Africa
Distilling rose geranium oil

We also get a very pretty geranium essential oil from Egypt. The prices have gone quite high there and it is currently difficult to get but we anticipate things leveling off soon. When they were in the middle of the peaceful civil uprising which led to the resignation of Mubarak, my supplier was in the middle of Tahrir square sending me video on his Blackberry. It was positively, wonderfully, thrilling! I told him, ‘Today, we are all Egyptians!’ After 9-11, many of my suppliers sent emails of sympathy, expressing their strong support and deep sadness for our loss. 

It is all these wonderful global business-to-business relationships that form tight bonds, especially when the trade is Fair Trade. If we are ever to have peace in the world, I am convinced the way that we honor each other in these relationships is one of the keys.” 


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