(PR.com)– Delore Zimmerman's arrival in the African country of Ghana's capital city, Accra, meant a winning outcome for his host from the very start.
“Very few Americans visit the countryside in Ghana,” Zimmerman, President of Praxis Strategy Group, explains. “My colleague, Tony Mensah, told his business associates he could bring an American businessperson there, and they bet that he couldn't. It was a lighthearted beginning to a very productive, fruitful visit to a country full of potential and one of the African continent's strongest democracies.”
One of the efforts underway as a result of Zimmerman's visit is organizing a group to import pineapples to North America, possibly organic pineapples, through a sustainable farm community project. The core group consists of Tony Mensah, Kwami Ofei of Farm Anas Ltd. – a commercial grower of mango and papaya – and a professor from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). The pineapple will be grown by women brought together as a farm-based organization (FBO) that will focus on sustainable, low-impact use of natural resources – an initiative that is part of the Paramount Chief Osaadeayo Nana Addo Danquah III's vision for the Akaupem area.
“Pineapple production provides vital work and income in the pineapple growing regions, yet the current structure and organization can be improved, especially for exports to the United States,” Zimmerman explains. “We're now working on putting together a market for the pineapples, likely out of Los Angeles, California, because it provides a larger base of people for the contract. Our colleagues in Ghana will organize the farmers while we organize the buying groups and marketing efforts.”
As a developing country, Ghana now relies on a few primary commodities and minerals for revenue and foreign exchange. Cocoa, snails, mangos, pineapples, gold and timber are all important export products for the African country. Zimmerman and Praxis Strategy Group are helping coordinate efforts to improve production techniques, production, packaging and shipping for enhanced export opportunities. Praxis is also leading efforts to organize a first-ever agricultural expo for Ghana that will include participants from across North America.
The initial impetus for Zimmerman's visit was to speak at a rural economic development conference a few days before Ghana's annual Odwira Festival. The Odwira Festival is celebrated in the fall by the people of the Akwapem traditional area. The festival is mainly the dramatization of Akwapem sacred traditions, myths and olden day legends, handed down by the ancestors of the “Oman.”
“The Festival has been held since 1826, and the celebration includes an amazing number of events,” Zimmerman explains. “In participating in the festival, we learned that there is no cultural museum for the area, so we're also now looking at securing funding through foundations and development banks to establish a cultural museum for the Akuapem area. Separately, an architect is working on designs for a museum.”
Moderate efforts yield major accomplishments “Ghana's key challenges are development, sanitation and healthcare,” Zimmerman says. “The chiefs, sub-chiefs and everyone I met with is very entrepreneurial minded and motivated to do their part to develop their country. It's rewarding that even moderate efforts can produce a major impact on improving their lives and preserving their heritage.”
Zimmerman plans to return to Ghana in the fall of 2009 to participate in the Odwira Festival and lead a tour of other economic developers and agri-business professionals from around the world. As to the other ambitious plans for that visit, all bets are off.