In Securing Botanicals, International Relationships are Key

Trish Flaster, Trish Flaster

May 17, 2012

3 Min Read
In Securing Botanicals, International Relationships are Key

Procuring plants for research and development requires multiple relationships worldwide. With the current electronic luxuries we have at our fingertips, it has become less problematic, but there are guidelines to prevent—and even dissolve—barriers.

Finding the right colleagues 

Ideally, you'll have colleagues worldwide who can refer you to specialists. You can then contact these specialists and offer mutually beneficial opportunities.

Using my background in research and discovery, let's say I need to build relationships with several field managers. In this situation, the skills require the ability to identify plants in their region and to abide by the Convention of Biologic Diversity. The latter requires obtaining the proper permits and being able to ship materials to the United States. 

Easier said than done. For example, in Peru, the collections may be near the Amazon River, but one must travel by plane to Lima, the capitol, to procure all transport permissions.  Also, Peru has specific export requirements for bulk materials

And what are the regulations for each country? Your in-country liaisons must be well-informed so you (or your client) can continue the development process. Know the skill sets of any potential partners, and then ask if they can meet your requirements.

The language barrier

If you do not understand their language—and they do not speak yours—do not proceed. There is too much potential for failure. If, however, you can communicate well enough, then proceed: you will learn and they can also increase their knowledge of your language. Translation tools online are great these days for the simple things. Technical language? Well, that is still in the future.

Getting what you need

We take many things for granted in the U.S.: access to packaging supplies, tools, private vehicles, intellectual property, and funds. Unless you are working with a large firm, these can be tough issues. Simple things like quality plastic bags and adequate cardboard are not common commodities in rural areas. Sending supplies, or working with your partners to find locals who can make items like cloth bags, can remedy these problems. Access to tools is also critical. If the investment is small on your part, then buy the necessary tools. The benefit may be bigger than having to worry about the cost. Investments in computers, cameras, and phones can expand a trusting relationship.

Access to vehicles may continue to be a barrier, but in time if the exchange of funds continues the foreign colleagues could rent or purchase a vehicle. If your work is more sophisticated, then you may want to bring colleagues to your place of work to learn the skills before returning to build the facilities and implement the techniques to your specifications. 

Funds may be difficult to come by initially, so you may need to offer seed money in the beginning, but it may be worth the investment. Small funds are all that are required—and can they be creatively implemented as a loan.

The quality of your partners

Your overseas colleagues must understand how to make barriers more porous so they can eventually be dissolved. There will always be barriers; what matters is how they hurdle them.

You can know simply by offering clear guidelines. If the colleagues deliver in a timely fashion, with results within your specifications, then you will know to proceed. If not, ask what you can do to help meet these goals. If the answer is simple, then you will know if this is a partnership worth nurturing.

It is all about how you communicate and treat each other. With understanding and respect you will build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.

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