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Carolyn and Joe in Western Africa: Ghana – heart of the palm!

For the final leg of their trip, Carolyn and Joe cross the border to Ghana...

We’ve hopped across the border from Cote d’Ivoire where we’ve been looking at cocoa, and our short trip to Ghana is to look at our potential supply chain for the UK’s first fair trade palm oil.

This is Traidcraft, so suspend your concerns about what you may have heard about production of this valuable and versatile oil.

We'll be doing it very differently, in Ghana, the spiritual home of the oil palm, and with small-scale producers, not on huge plantations. We’re here to meet the farmers, see the processing plant and take a look at some of the projects that have already been funded through the co-ops that work with our partners, Serendipalm.Serendipalm.jpg

Oil palm is an amazing plant, with every single bit of its fruit used in a variety of products you simply wouldn’t believe – everything from food to face cream, soap, household products, fuel – even paint.

Traidcraft is delighted to be part of yet more real innovation in one of the few really big commodities without a current fair trade supply chain.

We met some amazing people on our trip and there are so many stories to tell as we begin our work on palm oil – can’t wait to get started!

In the meantime, see the image above for the cheeriest, chattiest bunch of women I’ve ever met. They work in the fruit processing area, sitting in big circular work groups with a pile of palm in the middle, where they pluck and clean the fruit from its bunches, ready to process. Serendipalm2.jpg

It’s much harder than it looks because the bunches are hard to handle, very spiky and difficult to strip.

When I asked what they talk about as they work, they first said it’s about getting their fair share of the softer palm that’s easier to work with. Then it’s about their families – and their husbands – then they all laughed when I said it was just like being in Gateshead!

Finally, here's the lovely bunch of people who run the plant, support the farmers and who organised our visit so brilliantly and made our short trip to Ghana so memorable. A more hospitable and friendly crew you couldn’t wish to meet!

Click here to read Carolyn and Joe's previous blogs from Western Africa