News - December 13, 2012

Reading a book under a tree in Ghana

Suzanne Overbeek

Who? Jochem Jonkman, MSc Food Technology
What? Feasibility analysis for upscaling mango production
Where? Integrated Tamale Fruit Company (ITFC), Gushie, Northern Region, Ghana

Have you joined the club?' the expats in Tamale asked me. In other words, 'Have you already had such bad diarrhoea that you filled your pants?' Unfortunately I was definitely one of them. Especially at the beginning, the amount of oil and hot pickle in the food took some getting used to, as did the local bacteria. For that reason I avoided eating meat. I was tempted once because it looked so good, but it turned out to be a block of goat's abdominal fat. Raw and disgusting, as if I was licking a goat. Yuck.
The company where I did my internship produced mango puree on a small scale. My job was to make the final product more consistent and to do the paperwork so that the mango puree could be certified by the Ghanaian Food and Drugs Board. As well as that, my supervisor and I did a feasibility study about upscaling. That was a challenge: my supervisor had no background in food technology and the rest of the team consisted of five women who didn't speak much English.
After a short break I have been back in Ghana since the end of November, to spend a year training people at the factory. Luckily we have enough time during the short mango season in January and February to test everything before the long mango season that runs from April to August.
Life in a village in the savanna without internet and without obligations is wonderful! After work I can go into the village or read my book under a tree. I socialize with both expats and locals. Life is relaxed and less hurried. After my active years in Wageningen, this is a welcome bit of peace and quiet.