Focused on Shea - Iowa State University PhD Student Conducts Research in Ullo, Ghana

EWB-KNUST travel team in a group picture with George and representatives in Ullo Traditional Area during June 2021
Group picture after the Post-harvest Loss Management training of trainers program in Ullo

Focus group discussion during the shea nut post-harvest assessment survey

During the summer of 2021, George Obeng-Akrofi, a Ph.D. student in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and a member of the Eginners Without Borders (EWB-ISU) chapter at Iowa State University (ISU), was hosted by KNUST to conduct his research and monitor EWB-ISU’s projects in the Ullo Traditional Area (UTA). George, a graduate student of Dr. Dirk Maier, is supported through the Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction, which is a multi-disciplinary and -institutional organization led by ISU. For his three-month stay in Ghana, he conducted a qualitative survey interviewing the Shea nut producing women in UTA. This research was performed to establish baseline data for the joint EWB-ISU and EWB-KNUST Ullo Shea Project, for which he serves as the Responsible Engineer in Charge (REiC). While in Ullo, George also organized a “train the trainer” workshop on the post-harvest management of food grains and Shea nuts. This workshop directly impacted more than 30 trainers and was made possible with the involvement of Self Help International (SHI) – a Consortium partner in Ullo. Speaking to George about the workshop, he said, “I’m happy the Consortium is supporting my research and that EWB-KNUST and SHI were ready when the time came for us to sow seeds in the lives of these farmers, as I couldn’t have done this alone. I’m positive that the training we’ve given these lead farmers will have a ripple effect in the community, where they will train other smallholder farmers to reduce be post-harvest losses”.

When asked to comment on the exciting part of his trip, this is what George had to say:

“Haha … there’s been a lot, especially staying in Ullo for about five weeks and getting the chance to spend some time with EWB-KNUST and SHI there. Nevertheless, my greatest excitement has always been the impact we have made and continue to make in the lives of the people of Ullo. I’m happy to be a part of this!!”.

George is now working on the analysis of the survey data to identify the main factors leading to the post-harvest loss of shea nut in the UTA and evaluate appropriate solutions that will help rural shea women groups to reap more value from locally produced shea nuts. All this will be done in collaboration with SHI and the EWB student chapters at both universities.