Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


The problem of grain storage

It is with great interest that I read your weekly publication Talking Drums. Your contributing writers bring to the attention of readers everywhere the political and economic progress and/or regress of the West African Nations. The agricultural obstacles facing a hungry world are of particular interest to me. Our company, One World Agro Ltd. is well versed in assisting developing nations and has the expertise and pragmatic capabilities to guide private and governmental agencies in solving problems such as described in the article by J. Maud Kordylas Storage' - 'Grain - an ever changing problem'. During the past 20 years our company has been designing, revamping, supervising and procuring equipment to solve storage problems for maize, rice, barley, wheat, milo and other foodstuffs. We have worked successfully in Latin America, South America, the Middle East, China, and several Pacific Rim countries.

Additionally, we have heavy experience in working with companies in the USA such Continental Grain as Company, Cargill, Bunge, ADM, Ferruzi and others. During this period we have also assisted many corporate owned and small family farm operations with grain storage technology, including our own family owned farms in Illinois, US.

We are aware of the time lapse that occurs when government and private sector officials attempt to solve serious basic problems in the industry. Often their sincere concern but ill advised direction leads to only continued problems.

It is our desire to attack these basic problems with an organized plan to reduce and eliminate storage problems of the grains produced. Our planned strategy includes:

Evaluation of existing storage and correction of current problems includ- ing correction of construction defects, including the sealing of all leaks, and repairing poor foundations;

Maintain thermocouple temperature detecting cables in each storage silo or building to maintain temperatures that will avoid mould growth and insect infestation;

Maintain thermocouple temperature detecting cables in each storage silo or building to properly monitor temperature changes. If the system shows sudden increases, it is indicative of insect activity in the grains;

Provide proper cleaning and drying of the grains before elevating kernels, stalks and other debris is allowed to remain in with the kernels, severe damage can be the result. This is because the foreign material is heavily laden with moisture. This material will also adhere to the silo walls and create insect and mould incubating areas.

In developing a programme for improved or new agricultural enterprises we always make practical use of the local workforce and management that is available.

It is not and never has been our intention to totally automate agricultural industries because employment of locals is extremely important. Also, sophisticated systems can create technical problems that often are difficult to correct.

One of our technicians is currently assisting with a maize and rice farm in Nigeria. The problems, while difficult, are not insurmountable but do require expertise such as One World Agro Ltd. can provide.

If the brief outline of our capabilities is of interest to you and your com- rades, we will appreciate your passing on the information to interested parties.

Howard R. Bell, Houston, Texas

Re-"Signs of the times"

An article in the Talking Drums of June 24, 1985, headed "Ghana - signs of the times" would have been allowed to pass without comment but for the sarcastic remarks made about the Ghana National Trading Corporation.

Referring to full-page adverts that the GNTC had on two occasions placed in a weekly paper, The Mirror, the article, written by Miss Elizabeth Ohene, the paper's editor, said:

"That (advertisement) really should not be anything worth mentioning except, of course, that this is a country and a supermarket chain where for the past many years if there was anything to be sold, it was kept underneath the counters and behind closed doors and was available only to a select few."

Obviously the author is very well aware that over the years the GNTC has distributed merchandise through indeed a pity that she chose to ridicule the corporation by a possibly isolated incident which is neither the normal practice nor the official policy.

In times of scarcity, as was the case- in Ghana in the recent past, all sorts of malpractices are resorted to by certain traders but certainly the GNTC is too disciplined and social service orientated to be a party to such anti social practices.

Now with reference to the full-page advertisement placed in The Mirror the GNTC is at a loss to find out where it went wrong.

If advertising in a publication to sell a commodity merits an unfriendly commentary, then the author will be doing a great disservice to her own field of endeavour which depends almost one hundred per cent on advertising for survival.

Thank you, Madam Editor, for the space allowed.

Eddie Agyemang, Public Relation Department,
GNTC Head Office Ghana House, Accra

Elizabeth Ohene writes:

It is difficult to see what the PR department of the GNTC is unhappy about. Far from "an unfriendly commentary" on the GNTC, or an attempt to ridicule the "social service-orientated GNTC", I was only pointing out what great strides the Corporation and the country have taken. Gone are the days. of scarcity and in are the days of availability, so much so that the Ghanaian market has returned to seller's market and the GNTC has to advertise the foods it has in stock.

In other words, normality, or the very bad old days when traders tried to coax and induce buyers had returned to the country. Surely it is not being suggested that not too long ago the shelves in GNTC shops were empty. I was only celebrating the return of ful shelves in the shops and envying The Mirror that it got full page advertisements from the GNTC when Talking Drums had not.

Parties and multi-party systems

I would like to respond briefly to Mr Ebenezer Mireku's letter (July 22) commenting on my article "Ghana: Towards the Political Kingdom" (June 24, July 1 and 8, 1985).

Mr Mireku's thinking reflects a basic confusion between political parties and multi-party political systems. While one feeds into the other, the two are conceptually different. That political parties are effective agents for the aggregation of political opinion is generally accepted. (Professor at Cape Coast, makes this point effectively in "Problems and Dangers of on Party Politics", Talking Drums, June 17, 1985, even though he in the end also capitulates to this confused thinking).

Indeed, even in the Ghanaian context, political parties have carried out this aggregation function remarkably well. The original dichotomy between the conservatives and progressives has been maintained over the years by the UP and CPP, PP and NAL and PFP and PNP. The problem starts when several political parties which are seemingly well organised and represent distinct shades of opinion are put on the same arena in a competitive mode.

In the absence of a strong tradition of competition, individualism and tolerance of opposition (what I con- sider to be the behavioural requirements for a successful multi-party system) the political process degener- ates into a war of attrition with costly consequences to the country as a whole. My election-by-plebiscite proposal is intended to provide a filter so that the electorate is presented with a single nominee for ratification only after the political organs of the society have arrived at a consensus.

The fact that I opted to start with the current CDR system does not imply that the current system is any more or less legitimate than any other system we have had in the past. It simply reflects my position that we would make fewer mistakes if we moved incrementally from where we are today.

I would also refer Mr Mireku to Recommendation 2 of my article where I make the point that in order for the CDR network to serve as the basic units for political participation, it would be necessary to broaden their base so that they attract all who are politically motivated.

Clearly, if this transformation takes place, there will be equal opportunity to participate in the political process. Real political debate can also take place so that the CDRS will not in Mr Mireku's words be the "shouting minority".

Paa Kwesi Mensah, Orleans, Ontario

PNDC inquiry into death

I read with much grief an article in the West Africa of 29th July, under the headline PNDC INQUIRY INTO WORKER'S DEATH in which an employee of Ghana Cocoa Board was beaten to death by soldiers at Gondar Barracks (PNDC Headquarters). This is not the first time that soldiers have beaten innocent citizens to death.

To mention a few, there is the case of Mr Ahmed Pobee of the same company who was beaten to death by soldiers, and after which an investigation later found him innocent of the offence he had been accused of. There is also the case of Mr Kugblenu, a journalist who died in hospital after a period of unjustified internment, and the case of the Editor and News Editor of the Pioneer Publications.

If the PNDC Government considers it fit that any offence committed in Ghana should attract the death penalty either by firing squad or beatings from its loyal troops, then there should be no enquiry which involves the waste of taxpayers' money.

Bafour Ansah, London

talking drums 1985-08-12 Ghana's former vice-president speaks from exile