Your miles enable help alliance to support spice growers in Nepal - Miles & More employee Timo Haucke was there as a volunteer
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. Approximately one-third of the population lives below the poverty line, and nearly half the children are malnourished. Farming families cannot find a way out of their extreme poverty due to rising food prices, crop failures and natural disasters. To support these people, help alliance has been sponsoring a project for the sustainable production of cardamom and Szechuan pepper since 2019. The aim is to help small growers to optimise their spice production and to increase their income by selling it at a fair price. New cultivation and marketing methods aim to facilitate access to international markets.
Twelve Lufthansa employees visited the farmers of the Lamjung District as part of a volunteer programme about a year after the project started, to see for themselves how the project is progressing. A comprehensive analysis was carried out to define three objectives: improve working conditions, optimise the grading process and open up new sales channels. The project was once again able to move forward, thanks to the commitment of Timo Haucke from Miles & More and other colleagues.
The project was once again able to move forward, thanks to the commitment of Timo Haucke from Miles & More and other colleagues.
These are his own personal experiences:
“During the two weeks we were there, we gained an insight not only into the everyday lives of the Nepalese Szechuan pepper and cardamom growers, but also into their spice production and logistics.”
help alliance had already built smokehouses for drying the spices in the first stage of the project. This eliminates the need for expensive transport and leaves control of the finished product in the hands of the farmers.
“We were very touched by the warmth and hospitality of the people. Just the welcome we received gave us even more incentive to continue working on the project.”
It quickly became clear what was still needed to move the project forward: above all, the development of sales channels in Europe and a suitable brand name with attractive packaging. That was the start of NEPAL HIGHLAND SPICES in resealable bags.
“Szechuan pepper and cardamom are grown in the Himalayas at an altitude of over 2,000 metres. As the areas under cultivation are very extensive and difficult to access, cultivation and harvesting are very strenuous for the farmers and quite often lead to injuries – to their back and hands, for example.”
After returning to Germany, Timo Haucke and his colleagues continued to work on the project intensively in their free time for five months. In addition to a crowdfunding campaign that raised over EUR 5,000, they launched a major Christmas donation campaign in several Lufthansa offices and sold the spices they had brought back with them from Nepal. The money was used to buy tools and equipment for the farmers (such as gloves and helmets), to make their arduous and sometimes dangerous work a little easier.
“One of the volunteers in Nepal was a colleague who has contacts with LSG Sky Chefs, the Lufthansa catering subsidiary. Upon our return, we worked with LSG chefs to develop dishes using the spices. This led to some fantastic recipes and even to an entire recipe book …”
It also resulted in some delicious recipes such as Pradeen’s Lavender Cardamom Latte and Marco’s Szechuan Chicken. Ramro saanga khanu (“Bon appétit” in Nepalese)
“In the spring of 2020, we visited an international spice producer from Austria and were on the verge of setting up a partnership – but then the coronavirus crisis unfortunately came along. The company was very interested in adding the high-quality spices to its own product range, which would of course have been great for the project. Personally, I really hope they keep working on it.”
Of course, negotiations with distribution partners in Europe are expected to resume as soon as possible. During their visit to Nepal, our Lufthansa colleagues also identified several steps that need to be taken:
- spice grading training for farmers to minimise the cost of middlemen and transport
- selling spices in local souvenir shops and cafes
- exploring sales opportunities for spice “waste” for scented pot-pourri, etc.
- seeking Fairtrade/organic certification for the spices
“This was an extremely educational and emotional experience for all of us and one that we will remember very fondly. It will help us not only in our professional careers but also in our private lives.”
Helping helps. You too can help by donating miles to help alliance.