Monday, September 21, 2009

A Holiday in Ghana

Yesterday was Sunday and today was a national holiday in Ghana, the 100th Birthday of Kwame Nkrumah, the man who led Ghana to independence in 1951. Most businesses were closed and everyone was celebrating. So it goes without saying, we did not have many meetings the last two days. We did start with a good conversation with Tony and one of his business partners, Nana. We have started the discussion on the type of business plan we will put together for the pineapple initiative- costs, distribution, branding, and packaging. We have decided shipment of small quantities of fresh pineapple as early as November is possible. We talked about branding it under the Akuapem Mountain name, utilizing the Queen Mother as the story teller for the pineapple. We would focus on the sweetness of the pineapple and the great story of Moses the farm manager and the people of the village. We also talked about how NDSU could connect with the University of Ghana, Accra’s College of Agriculture as they launch a new strategic initiative of departments and research.

After the project talk we attended part of the celebration on independence, much like a 4th of July celebration. Tony then took us on a little sight-seeing drive. We started at the fishing village. Over 5,000 people in a small area, most of them grew up there and know no other life. They have no schools, hospitals or, in a lot of cases, shelter. Tony said there is a baby born at least weekly in the village. It was very enlightening, but difficult to see.

Our next stop was at one of the better public beaches. Restaurants, bars, parties..but no swimming, the tide is strong. We then ventured to Tony’s old neighborhood and met his son George, near the “shop” Tony owns. It's a roadside stand, but very nice compared to others we've seen.

Lunch was at one of Tony’s associates, Roger. Homemade Banku with red pepper sauce and Tilapia was the fare. Delore and I tried a little, it was very hot and spicy but I was able to eat a bit.

After a couple of hours with “the boys” of Tony’s neighborhood, we took another drive. This time we drove through a very old part of Accra to talk to the videographer who is doing a documentary of our visit. It was by far the worst part of town we have been in, not counting the fishing village. Narrow streets with goats, a donkey, kids and continuous congestion. Again, an eye-opening adventure.

We finished the day with Chinese food for the second day in a row…surprisingly it is very good here.

Tomorrow we are back to work. We are meeting with people from business and government that can help us deliver on our goal of bringing part of African agriculture to North America.

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