Discovering Africa: Ghana and the Ivory Coast
Our Operations Coordinator recently made their first trip to Africa to meet with our farmers and get their hands a little dirty. Read about their experience below.
Geography games and I are no strangers. But a year ago if I had to point to Ghana on a map, my finger would have landed on Kenya. And to point to Côte d’Ivoire? I would have hovered over South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope with a puzzled face.
This past January I had the incredible opportunity to travel to both Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to meet with local farmers with whom Mavuno works. As someone with a strong interest in sustainable agriculture and rural development, this trip was nothing short of fascinating.
Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are two West African countries known for their tropical fruits. They sit side by side along the Gulf of Guinea.
Image: The Ivory Coast is in orange and Ghana is green.
My first stop on the trip was in Ghana where I was kindly greeted by heat and humidity. There, I admired the farmers’ use of both new and old farming techniques to improve their organic yields. These techniques included crop rotation, organic fertilizers, and intercropping. All three methods help the soil retain nutrients and moisture which leads to healthier crops, tastier fruits, and positive environmental effects.
Like a child, I was wide eyed and amazed by everything. I saw many of firsts: a cocoa tree, a baobab tree, and a pineapple’s lifecycle. And, I had a chance to visit a chocolate factory and learn about the intricate control of cocoa.
Being from the home state of Hersey Chocolate, I thought I knew cocoa and chocolate. I was wrong. Check out this cocoa pod we split open. Inside are cocoa beans that you can suck on like candy. They're a bit tart and slimy but an overall nice treat. Did you know cocoa was like that?
They say you never forget your first and that holds true for the baobab pictured above. As soon as my eyes caught sight of it, I was transported to my first association of baobabs: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince.
Above is a pineapple sucker. It was trimmed off of a mature plant that already bloomed and produced a pineapple. The sucker will be used to plant a new crop.
My travels then led me to Côte d’Ivoire, also called the Ivory Coast. Here, I met with a town’s Office of Farmers. They proudly led me through rough terrain to visit their farms. There, they discussed their future ambitions and cut open fresh pineapples for me to taste. After touring their farms, we visited their local community to see how their increased incomes helped their neighbors. We saw three new buildings they were able to build including a school cafeteria, an office space for the farmers, and an apartment building that would bring more housing to the area.
Overall, my trip to Ghana and the Ivory Coast was an unforgettable experience. I was impressed by the ingenuity and resilience of the farmers who work hard to produce high-quality, organic fruits. I left with a newfound appreciation for both fresh and dried fruit and the farmers who dedicate their lives to growing them. And now, I'm ready for my next geography game. I could never forget Ghana and the Ivory Coast.