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Ghana’s first farmers’ market: ‘We need more like this’

 
Accra Green Market: Moco's Savannah Honey

Moco’s Savannah Honey is on sale at Accra Green Market for 10 Ghana cedis, and also exported to the UK. Photograph: Edison Gbenga Abe/Phosmic Impressions

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Ghana’s first farmers’ market: ‘We need more like this'” was written by Afua Hirsch, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 17th September 2013 11.05 UTC

There are some things about public gatherings in Ghana’s capital Accra that are guaranteed. A certain amount of dust and Atlantic spray on the breeze, a sound system blaring Azonto – a local music sensation – just a bit too loud, fearless children lining up to show off their moves, and an orderly row of canopies where the hot and the tired sit down on plastic chairs and take stock.

But if you looked a little closer at the fair in Ako Adjei park on Saturday, you would have found that what appeared a typical Accra event was quietly masking something quite unusual: a farmers’ market. The dozen or so small-scale producers selling their wares at The Accra Green Market were busily making history as participants in Ghana’s first ever fair for locally grown, sustainable, organic produce. “This is a great way to give exposure to organic, local products,” says Jeffrey Mouganie, 22, founder of Moco Foods, an organic company that produces local forest honey and fiery chilli sauce, guaranteeing a traceable supply chain and hiring workers with disabilities. “The only space we usually get to market our products are at the bazaars of international schools, where we sell to a lot of expats,” he says. “But we need more markets like this – the best feedback we have had for our products is from Ghanaians.”

Accra Green Market, Ghana

Displaying produce at Accra Green Market. Photograph: Edison Gbenga Abe/Phosmic Impressions

Moco’s Savannah Honey, on sale here for 10 Ghana cedis – approximately £3 – is being exported to the UK where it will go on sale at Harrods and Selfridges for what the producers expect to be around five times that price. Also on sale, organic mushroom wine – said to be a treatment for practically every medical condition from sclerosis to high blood pressure, asthma and “sexual weakness” – pak choi, gloriously frothy-leaved heads of broccoli, watermelon, small, knobbly carrots, and tough-skinned, tangy nectarines full of seeds and sweet-sour juice.

The organisers of the market believe they are part of a new trend towards sustainable, organic and local food, which they say goes hand-in-hand with the growth of Ghana’s new middle class. “Things in Ghana are changing – it is no longer a poor country but a middle-income country. And because of that, people are more interested in what they eat,” says Edison Gbenga Abe, 29, founder of Agripro – a mobile application company that provides farmers with access to marketplaces and which organised the Accra Green Market. “In East Africa, farmers’ markets are already really popular, but in West Africa, there is nothing like this. We plan to take it to different locations in Ghana, and we have had interest from Nigeria too.”

Constance Korkoi Tengey, founder of Immaculate Gold Beads, Mushrooms and Snails, is typical of the kind of small-scale grower whose products the market is designed to showcase. An energetic 62-year-old who carefully dishes out mushroom sandwiches, mushroom salad and mushroom gari foto – a veggie version of a popular Ghanaian dish made from cassava tubers – Tengey began growing mushrooms in her back garden seven years ago and says sales are on the rise. “I eat a lot of mushrooms as a substitute for meat, and I’ve noticed that I don’t gain as much weight, and it keeps me looking younger,” Tengey says. “People in Ghana are becoming more health-conscious these days, they are really showing an interest in my products. It’s a profitable business for me.”

Accra Green Market, Ghana

‘Small, knobbly carrots’ at Accra Green Market. Photograph: Edison Gbenga Abe/Phosmic Impressions

 

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