Backpacking from Accra to Cape Coast: Extracting palm oil the Ghana way
I have travelled much. I have crisscrossed continents and have spent most of my life in multi cultural London and multi ethnic Accra. No country or people are as friendly as Ghanaians. There is something about the cultural fabric of this nation that loves and shows great hospitality to all, especially foreigners. A brief and unscheduled stop off on the main road between Kakum and Elmina to see how palm oil is extracted brought this typically Ghanaian friendliness into sharp focus.
Palm oil is popular across West Africa. In Ghana some of the most popular dishes such as red red and palava sauce could not possibly taste authentic without Palm oil being used as the base.
About half hour into our trip to our next stop – Elmina castle, I spotted a Palm oil extraction facility by the road side. I quickly asked our driver to stop so I could see the extraction process. It turned out that perhaps, James, judging by the gusto with which he jumped off his seat and hurried to the facility was more enthused and fascinated than I was. Before I could set my camera up he’d already taken over one of the handles of the “squeezing” machine to the bemusement and applaud of the watching workers.
In no less than 15 minutes they’d taught us all we needed to know about extracting Palm oil the Ghanaian way, which was by no means enough to do it ourselves but at least we had an idea. The FAO has a flow diagram of how the processing works for the hard core amongst you.
The beauty of this stop over did not come from the intricate process of bunching, sterilising and finally pressing the palm fruit but the natural hospitality and generosity of the workers. They were only too happy to give us a taste of their working lives in the depressingly humid weather and hot sun. They found our fascination with what to them is pretty hum drum and run of the mill routine most amusing.
Photo Essay – Extracting palm oil the Ghana way.