Category: Ghana, 2012

School Farms and Pineapples

We talked more over breakfast about Sola’s project indoor pollution in Nigeria. As indicated earlier, indoor pollution causes two million deaths annually, mostly either women or young children, who spend time in the kitchen, either on their mother’s backs or by her side. Sola is now testing results among two groups in Nigeria, one of whom has been given clean burning ceramic stoves and the other group that is just being educated about the dangers and given suggestions as to how to avoid it. The problem has attracted the attention of The World Bank and others, and Sola has received a couple awards for his work.award for his work. In addition to the health benefits of controlling this problem, it has a number of unintended benefits, including, kids won’t have to fetch as much wood (because the ceramic stoves burn much more efficiently), girls will not be raped fetching wood, and their would be a huge affect on global warming. I told Sola that he needs to brand this problem, in order to make people aware of it and to attract funding to combat it, and suggested something like Indoor Pollution Syndrome (or IPS).

Even though it doesn’t fit in this spot, here’s a picture of Sola and Susie.

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We drove to the Cape Coast School of the Deaf, with Joe and Ida. Both the Kipharts and the Kwartengs have actively supported the school, the latter through an NGO that they run to encourage school farms, in which students can learn agricultural and animal raising skills hands on. Joe and Ida are very proud that the school has won the national award for the best school farm the past two years, which is unprecedented. We toured the school farm with the Kwartengs and the head of the school.

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Our next stop was at a very large (over 1500 students) technical high school, called Mankessim, where we saw a much larger school farm. Joe, a very charismatic figure, had the rapt attention of the students, when he preached to them about the benefits and opportunities in farming. We were also very interested to hear about and see a computer lab of more than 70 computers that had been presented to the school by parents of the students. I told Dick and Susie that next year it would be interesting for us to sit in on a class and they (and Peter) agreed.

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Another sign (no pun intended) of things to come was a large sign at the school that was in both English and Chinese.

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The Chinese have been very active throughout Africa, not always positively. An article in today’s local paper was headlined Ashanti under siege from Chinese miners, and told of illegal gold mining in the Ashanti area.

I was also able to do a small environmental improvement project, as I noticed one of Peter’s young men throwing a plastic water bottle on the ground (I’d also seen one flying out the window of the SUV, when we were following it. I told Peter who was quite upset by it, as he says he’s told them not to do that many times. He went over to the offender and quietly told him to go pick up the plastic bottle. A journey of a million miles ……..

The rest of the day was spent on matters relating to Dick and Joe’s very impressive pineapple operations. First we went to an area of approximately 200 acres, where their first crop had recently been harvested and sold to France. Then we drove on to another area of 2000 acres, where we saw people working, and were able to try planting a pineapple ourselves, not at all an easy task.

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We then went to meet with a chief of chiefs and another chief, who had sold Joe the first 2000 acres and with whom terms had been reached for another 2000 acres. (By the way, the chief of chiefs, has a day job; he’s an accountant in Accra.) They wanted Dick and Joe to move quickly in purchasing the land and employing local people, but Joe has not wanted to rush spending the money until they were ready to use the land. Relationships between Joe and the chiefs was very friendly.

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It’s a matter of our lack of understanding that Dick and I later discovered that the man who had sat front and center, wore a large gold watch and had done almost all of the speaking, was the chief of chiefs, when in fact he was only his mouthpiece. Funmi and Sola had understood that the man wearing brighter colors and sitting off to the side was the big chief.

At the insistence of the chiefs, we drove over to meet in a large conference room with the district manager. This was a waste of time, but interesting in its way. The district head blathered on about nothing in particular for a very long time. He took calls on his cell phone, twice, during the meeting. When one of the manager’s administrative cronies spoke and said they’d need information from Joe, Joe pretty much tore his head off. I complimented Joe afterwards in not calling the guy a “bureaucratic twit” and he confirmed that that was pretty-much what he had said to him

After arriving in Cape Coast, a couple hours drive from the district manager’s office, we travelled a long way over a bumpy road to a secluded restaurant on the beach. There we had a very good buffet dinner, joined by Joe and Ida, and their daughter, Lydia. For dessert, we sampled some of the delicious pineapple grown by Greenfields, Dick and Joe’s pineapple venture. After dinner everybody offered heartfelt toasts and comments about the amazing trip we’d had, the friendship of the group, and the prospects for very significant change, long term, based on the work being done and considered. I think we all were quite moved to be part of this really extraordinary group.

While others might rest, I had my blog to do.

School Farms and Pineapples

  • Eve

    Great job. Thanks.

  • Wendy

    The picture of the woman in the field dancing with the pineapple stalk (don’t know what that’s called) is one of my very, very favorites! I have a couple of other favorites from the pictures you’ve posted, too, but that one is a real winner!
    L,
    W.

  • Margot

    Dear Arnie and group,

    Love following your blog, the next best thing to being there! The pineapple plantation looks very impressive.
    Hope to join you all next year.
    The pictures are wonderful.

    Warmest regards to the Kipharts and safe travels,

    Margot

  • Valerie

    How I miss all those wonderful people you’ve been with, and the villages, and the countryside, and, especially, the beautiful children. Your blog has been very vivid – thanks Arnie.

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