Ghana Australia Alumni Association (G3A) members involved in the agricultural sector identified cassava processing as a challenge following monitoring visits to the field and reports by the media. Cassava is a tuber crop with a variety of uses in Ghana. It is widely promoted by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and seeks to contribute to food security and poverty alleviation. However, due to lack of technical know-how, processors often employ unhygienic practices, thereby reducing the quality of the products.
As a result, G3A, with support from the Australia Direct Aid Program (DAP) and in collaboration with the Regional Agriculture Development Unit (RADU), organised an exposure visit for 50 cassava processors to the Milonovise Good Practice Centre in Ghana’s Eastern Region on 19 May 2016.
Following opening remarks by Alumna Christina Nafrah and Dr Fredrick Twum, Director of Agriculture for the Eastern Region, the cassava processors were sensitised on improved handling techniques and practices. Topics discussed included food safety, packaging and labelling of products, and marketing and certification of products. Alumni with expertise in these subject areas led the discussions. The participants had the opportunity to tour the Good Practice Centre to observe improved ways of processing cassava and to interact with the centre manager.
It was expected that participants will gain knowledge on best practices and improve on their working environment and the quality of their products. “Processors are key in the food supply chain. More innovation is needed to enable them to compete in both domestic and international markets for increased incomes. That is what this cassava project is about,” said event facilitator and Alumna Mildred Suglo, who works at the Women in Agricultural Development Directorate in Accra.
In turn, for the Association, it was an opportunity to gain experience in implementing DAP projects and also make G3A visible in supporting development outcomes. Australia Awards Alumnus Seth Offei, Program Officer – Agriculture for the Ghana School Feeding Program, said that coming together with fellow Alumni to train others was an accomplishment for G3A. “It feels fulfilling to team up with other Alumni to share knowledge and experiences, knowing the knowledge acquired in Australia has become useful to the Ghanaian society. Australia Awards Scholarships provide further opportunities via the DAP for Alumni to impact positively on society after their studies.”
Following the event, a team of Alumni visited the participants in their communities to perform a post-event monitoring exercise. It was observed that the majority of participants had started establishing measures to ensure that they improve their workplace conditions and had shared their experiences with other cassava processors with whom they work.