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Iowa Farmers Could be Part of Ag Outreach to Ghana

Iowa soybean farmers could benefit from a new USDA Food for Progress agreement with the west African nation of Ghana. Courtesy: Iowa Soybean Association
Iowa soybean farmers could benefit from a new USDA Food for Progress agreement with the west African nation of Ghana. Courtesy: Iowa Soybean Association
November 24, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa - Farmers from Iowa and other states could be pitching in to help others half a world away, as part of new agreements forged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA just hosted a trade mission to Ghana, which included announcing some "Food for Progress" agreements to help stimulate development of farms and food processors in that West African nation. Agribusiness analyst Ken Root was part of the trade mission. He says Ghana is growing into a stable partner that is interested in new outside investment and trade.

"The country is a developing nation," says Root. "But it's got tremendous resources of oil, gold, diamonds, cocoa, and a number of other products that make it to where it is ready to expand."

Ghana is comparable in size to the state of Michigan and has had a democratic government since 1957. Root notes that in past centuries, some American and European interests stifled development or exploited the small nation, and the USDA's goal is to turn a new page there in the global economy.

The average age of Ghana's population is between 16 and 19, and the country is growing fast. Root says that makes this a pivotal time, both for the people and their government and as he sees it, they have two options.

"They can either build their economy to support the people, and have more buying power and produce more food to go with that, or they can fall into disease and destruction," he says. "One of the two is going to happen."

The American Soybean Association, which represents 22,000 soybean farmers, including those in Iowa, is part of the new agreements. They'll share their best practices with their farming counterparts in Ghana.

The USDA says the "Food for Progress" agreements are worth more than $58 million over the next five years.

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - IA