To go beyond the norm

It’s common knowledge in Ghana that to farm is to wrest an uncertain living  by the sweat of one’s brow.  There is a steady exodus from the rural areas to the city.  However, there are some amazing men who stand as exceptions.  Foster Ofori is one.

We have cooperated with him on a goat-rearing program for AIDS patients and a few weeks ago I went to take some pictures to send back to donors.

While I was there he showed me some of his other on-going projects and I was impressed.  Industry and innovation on a shoestring budget.

In one darkened room he was rearing nocturnal grass-cutters (cane rats) .  The original pair had been trapped from the wild by a hunter but have adjusted to captivity and regularly produce offspring.  I asked, “Have you eaten any yet?” He said, “Yes, four.”  Well worth it, I would say.  Their succulent meat does not taste like “chicken”- more like ham.

He ushered me into his yam barn, beautiful and  sprouting with promise for  the planting season.  He indicated a particular yam. ” You see this one?  People don’t like to plant it because when it is harvested in August it has a lot of moisture and doesn’t make  good fufu.  However, it keeps better than any other. Now in February, when my other yams  have spoiled, it is still good and makes excellent fufu.”

In the yard I had seen one of the children with a pile of  empty “pure water satchets.” carefully opening one end on each.   Pure ice cold water, conveniently bagged in individual servings, has become omnipresent  and can be bought almost anywhere.  Unfortunately they tend to be discarded without thought and next to the ubiquitous black plastic bags most purchases are sent home in,  are probably  the most common littered item  around.  I wondered what they were being recycled for.

In the yam barn I discovered the reason.  There, on the ground, were several hundred bags filled with soil, sprouting young mahogany seedlings.   As I looked at them I thought, “For all that is preached about reforesting, how many make the effort?”

No wonder Foster has no yearning to move to the city.  He is forever exploring and extending his ideas for innovative farming.


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