Liberia Dec 5

Monday, Dec 5. Had a spate of the trots last night. Maybe the fish that was in the cassava leaf for dinner. I took a Cipro just in case as would not want to be running out of a presentation and not make it. Doing my laundry by hand every day in the sink. Nice to have that option to keep my clothes clean and in rotation each day.

We got the fish marketing workshop underway. We had 27 fish farmers from all over Bong County in attendance. I set up the projector and could not make it work and went back to my room for an adapter I hoped would work and was relieved when it did. They cranked up the portable generator, and away we went.

After I gave a brief summary of how we live off the land in Juneau, I started in on the history of the Alaska Wild Salmon Company and how we got to where we are today. Not far into it, there was about a half hour or longer discussion on fish quality and selling fish and how the rural farmers at the meeting had it different than the town farmers. All perfect topics and what I wanted to hear. I came for a one or 2 day workshop I found out to be 5 days when I arrived, and now they really got things rolling. One farmer would bring up a problem, and another would counter with a solution, even if it wasn’t the solution the farmer with the problem was looking for.

We took a break about noon, and then came back about 30 minutes later to wrap up my slides after lunch was late. By now it was hot. Really hot. And not just for fat boy. The Liberians were feeling it too. I wrapped up my slides and lunch came. Potato leaf greens, palm oil, bullion cube, and pork sauce over rice. So good. I’d long since drank my 1.5 liters of water and was glad there was more water for drinking.

As the meeting had gone along I put up some topics we could discuss later. After my slides were over, Estelle took charge. She, Mohammed and I came up with 5 topics to explore in the market and town – feeds, nets, fish products, refrigeration avaiaibility, and smoking/drying of fish availability. Then they broke up into 5 groups and went to get information and present it at the meeting tomorrow.

Mohammed, Estelle and a few others went to the former Leprosy village to talk to the farmer there to see if we could do a harvest with them on Thursday. We passed some buildings near the compound that Estelle said were used for Ebola testing. Kind of eerie. About 300 people live there, and they are the children of lepers who originally lived there. The farmers talked together about all the aspects of the harvest. These people know what they’re doing. We decided to do the harvest on Thursday, and it would be the job of the workshop attendees to market these fish by then.

Estelle pointed out plots of land and an area over a hill formerly owned by Charles Taylor, the warlord that started the civil war in Liberia that spilled over into Sierra Leone and changed or ended so many lives here. More kinds of eerie.

So, that is gonna fill the week up and by Friday, we’ll hopefully have time to wrap things up before everyone has to leave. I’ve learned an unexpectedly large amount about fish farming here in 2016 and really enjoyed the day.

Oh, and I looked up Tamba Hali, the linebacker for the Chiefs. And it was as expected. He is indeed from this little burg of Gbarnga, Liberia.