January 12, 2014
We spent the night outdoors at Wacoro, sleeping in mosquito net tents in the school courtyard. The moon was incredibly bright at the beginning of the night. It masked nearly all of the stars. Once the moon disappeared from our view, all of the stars came out. It was a remarkable experience to sleep under the stars.
In the morning, we had millet and sorghum porridge with the mayor of Wacoro. He discussed how the village of approximately fourteen thousand uses seven tons of refined sugar a week. For us, this demonstrated the need for a sugar substitute, which the sorghum syrup could provide. After a short while, three of us were selected to meet the chief of the village. Dr. George, Dr. Mowry, and I were lucky enough to meet him. He was surprisingly 93 years old but he seemed quite active and joked around with us in his native language, Bambara. At the conclusion of the meeting, he wished us good luck with our project and gave us permission to leave the village. Before that, he gave Dr. Mowry and me our Malian names. Before the end of the trip, all members of the team were given Malian names. Below is a picture with the chief.
Dr. Mowry : Moussa Coulibaly
Louis : Madou Coulibaly
After leaving Wacoro, we visited another village to discuss the possibility of sorghum syrup. The group of men we discussed with were members of a cereal union, that poses advantages for sharing fields and selling grain. These farmers said that they only use grain of the sorghum. The juice in the stalks is not used and the stalks are often sold in the market. This was a common response from the villages we visited. The picture below shows a roof made of sorghum stalks.
After explaining, the possibilities of sorghum syrup, the men expressed interest in using it as a honey substitute. This gave us a new selling point of sorghum syrup; now, it could be described as a sugar substitute and honey substitute.
At the conclusion of the visit, we returned to Bamako to the Sleeping Camel for debriefing and preparation for the next day. Each evening, we would have a team meeting to discuss the most important data points collected throughout the day and express what experience stuck out to us the most.