Saturday, 26 May 2012

Meetings, meetings, meetings… Featuring Food!




Hello loyal reader,

I hope everything is going great wherever you may be!

The last week has been a blur of meetings and new experiences.  I have been attending meetings with CNFA, Kuapa Kokoo, and a group of extension agents working with MoFA.  On top of all of the meetings I have had numerous opportunities to go out and experience Ghanaian culture be it looking for street food, meeting people on the street, going out to the market for various reasons, or just hanging out at the guesthouse.

In the meetings I learned a lot about how the cocoa sector works in Ghana, as well as how the government, private companies and NGOs work to support and expand this area.  The CocoBod is the governing agency that sets the price for cocoa in Ghana, as well as provides and facilitates extension work to the cocoa farmers.  Through the agents the farmers are supplied with fertilizers for the crop, as well as any other information or technology that can improve their lives, such as information about hybrid crops, problem solving for pests or disease, etc.

The work done by the Cocoa Board is supplemented by the work done by Kuapa Kokoo and CNFA.  CNFA is working on a project aiming to increase the productivity and income of cocoa farmers.  How they aim to do this is through the construction of Business Development Centers where extension staff can work out of, and having extension staff offer inputs (such as herbicides, pesticides and fungicides) in addition to the regular extension work on a pay-for-extension basis.  I do not have enough information to really go on about Kuapa yet as I have not been able to schedule a fact finding meeting yet, but I have had an introductory meeting and I should find out by Monday when the bulk of the meetings will happen.

On Friday we got to go to the Agricollage in Kumasi to talk to MoFA extension agents to ask them some questions about their jobs and the different factors that effect the extension sector.  The most surprising thing I learned during the talk was the amout of farmers that each of the agents was responsible for – between 1,000 and 2,300 per person.  This obviously presents a huge logistical problem for the agents to be able to coordinate their work, which is usually solved by grouping farmers up in their communities and having a contact farmer in each group who organizes and passes on information.  This system is less than perfect, and because of problems with transportation the agents don’t always get to visit a group of farmers for the scheduled meetings.

Now, Food.

Lets go through some meal time fun – Ghana style.  Starting with breakfast!

First you need to head down the street and make the 5 min walk to your favorite street vendor.  Then make your selection, and by selection I mean weather you would like 1 or 2 eggs in your breakfast.  So I order my usual, 2 eggs with small bread and a bag of nescafe (instant coffee).  The thing about the coffee is they put about as much milk and sugar in the bag as humanly possible – but it is still about as amazing as you can imagine.  Grab your food and then wait half an hour for the coffee to get to the point where it doesn’t quite scald you when you touch the bag and enjoy the meal!

*Blogger is sucking right now and pictures aren't uploading nice*

Now Lunch.  This one was a treat – we actually ate it pretty early in the afternoon so I wouldn’t say it was lunch in the strictest sense, but it was the biggest meal of the day so we can call it dinner and get away with it.

Went to a really nice restaurant after visiting the agricollage and had a meal fit for a king!  Banku and tilapia.  Banku is fermented corn and cassava dough cooked and pounded into a paste which is kind of sour and very tasty.  Enjoy the visual!
For supper I usually run down to a group of ladies selling street food, grab some spaghetti with rice, and egg and a quarter of a pear (aka avocado)

*Blogger is sucking right now and pictures aren't uploading nice*

Until next time!
-Nathan

3 comments:

  1. Hey Nathan!

    I enjoyed the post - hearing about the daily meal effort is really neat. When you were talking about the contact persons for the groups of farmers, did they indicate how these contact people are selected? As in, maybe they are the most successful or literate?

    All the best!
    - Zac

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  2. From what I can tell, the contact farmers are chosen mostly because they are already reputable community members / leaders that people will respect and listen too

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