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Last Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Ghana's cooks take to fast fufu
By Kwaku Sakyi-Addo
BBC, Accra

Modern technology and changing lifestyles mean a growing number of Ghanaians are now being spared one of the most tedious jobs on earth - making fufu.

Making fufu
Such drudgery could soon be a thing of the past
Fufu tastes wonderful - especially with groundnut soup, dried fish and assorted vegetables - but it has traditionally taken many hours of laborious work to prepare.

First, you make your soup. Then you cook the plantain or yam and cassava; and then you pound and pound and pound until the mix is soft enough to swallow without first chewing it.

Now there are brands of instant fufu: you just mix the pre-cooked powder in water, stir it on the cooker for five minutes, or better still, just shove it in the microwave.

In a radio advertisement for one brand, a young boy runs away as soon as his mother asks him to pound the fufu - the instant powder is the solution to her problems.

"You get home at eight o'clock, you can still enjoy your fufu," says Elsa Afriyie Maldini, managing director of Elsa Foods, a company that pioneered instant local foods.

"Even if you are alone at home, especially career women, bachelors, pensioners, you can always enjoy your fufu and all the drudgery is taken care of."

Market

Mrs Maldini's company now processes hundreds of kilogrammes of various staples each day.

Packets of instant fufu
Instant fufu is exported for Ghanaians living abroad
She argues that food processing is also good for farmers - otherwise, during the bumper season a lot of their produce simply rots because there's no one to buy it.

"The excess from the farms, we take care of that, so the farmers can be sure of a market for their produce," Mrs Maldini says.

Additionally, because of the increasing number of Africans overseas, the processing of local staples for export is now getting recognition as an international business with good long-term prospects.

The African Development Foundation (ADF), a project of the US Agency for International Development, advises and finances food processing enterprises, with interest-free loans of up to $250,000.

Traditional

"If you look at the world today, one area we have competitive advantage is in ethnic food processing. It's a really growing area," says Seth Asante, ADF's country manager in Ghana.

Women eating fufu
Some feel instant fufu does not taste as good
"One of our clients has sale of over $2m a year, just selling ethnic processed foods to the US and Canada - not even Europe, because she does not have the capacity.

"And even here in Ghana, the demand is so high because the middle class are beginning to buy this food for themselves."

But instant African food does not yet appeal to everyone.

One man I spoke to talked of the beauty of food prepared in the traditional manner.

"You would not say it is cumbersome to prepare good financial accounts, so we should sidestep that procedure and do something else.

"That would not be acceptable, so fufu must be pounded to get it right," he said.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Ghana
25 Apr 06 |  Country profiles

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