September Project Roundup: Pineapples Harvested for Fresh Market, New Cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Ghana Team Adds Another Advocate
September 14, 2015
We are excited to announce another new hire in Ghana, Joseph Appiah, who will join Collins as a farmer advocate! Peter Mueller, our project manager, and Joshua Fiagbedzi, our advocate manager, have been spending a great deal of time with Joseph in training and orientation. Joseph has a background in agriculture and will be a great addition to the team.
Our team in Ghana, which now includes Peter, Joshua, Collins and Joseph, had a great visit to the Center for No-Till Agriculture this month. This program teaches conservation agriculture methods but demonstrates a much larger scale than our typical project. The team gained much insight, as well as visual validation to the methods we are teaching. The program could be a source of future employees, as it annually trains people who will be looking for employment after their training, and are fully aware of the benefits of conservation agriculture techniques for the small scale farmer.
Regardless of where we serve in the world, our universal process always begins with assessment. As we consider a focused approach in the village of Nsawam, our team has been working on a needs assessment in the area, which has included a survey of about 50 families. Our assessment report is nearly complete, and contains many interesting facts and observations that will be of great use as we move forward in the area.
After two full weeks of zero new Ebola cases, five new cases have appeared, with the three most recent in the district of Kambia. Please join with us in prayer for a complete end to this epidemic, and for the power of God to lift up the people of Sierra Leone in their ability to grapple with their everyday challenges, on top of the damaging impact of this year-long ordeal.
We were disappointed to learn that Africa Felix Juice (AFJ) would not, after all, be able to purchase our pineapple harvest for juice processing. They recently closed their nearby processing plant, requiring us to execute our backup plan to sell the fruit on the local fresh market. Graciously, AFJ has loaned us their trucks and drivers to pick up the harvest and deliver it to the Luma, the nearest market to Bauya.
Our crew has harvested and delivered three loads of pineapples, amounting to about 8,000 pineapples total. They have done a great job in spite of the wet weather. Much like our outdoor markets and activities here, heavy rains drastically reduce the number of people in attendance, increasing the number of days it takes to sell a load.
Sullay and our team continue to learn about pineapple, including harvesting, loading, shelf life in a hot truck, sales and “what stage of ripe” the customer base is looking for. We have adjusted our selection process for harvest, and it seems to be paying off. Our first load had a spoilage rate of more than 600 fruits out of 2,800, but on the second load, the rate was reduced to 60 fruits out of 3,000.
Sullay and Joe have found another market, where people are sending trucks to the site to buy fruit in bulk, and we already have sold 50 dozen through that market. The selling price was lower than the more urban market; however, the net profit was almost the same if not slightly higher, as we did not have the expenses associated with a three-day selling trip, such as fuel, food and overnight costs.
We have been able to hire back some of the women who served as temporary workers earlier in the season and assisted with planting and watering. They are now assisting in the harvest and transporting the pineapples to the vehicle collection point. This provides them with valuable additional income for this time of year, known as “the hungry months,” because food stores are getting low and new crops are not yet producing.
David continues to counsel and encourage our partner in Togo, Jesse Shanks, whose latest update mentioned a visit to Jean’s home. Jean was part of the team we trained on our initial visit in February. While visiting, he noticed that Jean had begun to clear a small portion of his own land using the methods he learned.
Jesse has started preparation work for a new demonstration site, including gathering materials for a fence and preparing the field for a spring planting.
We continue to negotiate with our contacts in Panama regarding staffing, and pray that we will reach an agreement soon and launch our pilot project there.