Mom ‘N Pop Eyes Ghana For Ag Exports With US Govt Help

Mom ‘N Pop Eyes Ghana For Ag Exports With US Govt Help

A family-owned North Dakota grain buyer accustomed to doing business in well-established markets is getting some help from the U.S. government as it seeks to gain a foothold in Ghana’s emerging economy, according to a report in InForum.com.

JM Grain, based in Garrison, N.D., buys, sells and exports chickpeas, lentils, feed peas, green peas, yellow peas and seed to up to 15 countries.

It will join several other North Dakota companies in Ghana later this month on a trade mission with the North Dakota Trade Office to introduce the state’s products to potential Ghanaian food producers.

“Africa is the new frontier for investment, and we hope to be a part of the groundbreaking force that’s able to open up some of these places in Africa to U.S. businesses,” said Beverly Flaten, who handles public relations and communications for JM Grain. Her husband, Marvin Flaten, and son, Justin Flaten, own the company.

During the trade mission, North Dakota educators and food specialists will talk about the nutritional benefits of products from the state and demonstrate how those products might be incorporated into the Ghanaian diet.

Pulse crops (grain legumes), like the ones JM Grain buys and sells, are a great protein source and they don’t take a lot of energy to cook, Beverly said.

“This trip would not only be to find the market for the pulse crops, it would also be to create the market,” she said.

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Though they’re seasoned exporters, this will be a new experience for JM Grain. The company usually goes into well-established markets that have a big demand for pulse crops, she said.

JM Grain recently gave 3,900 pounds of peas to the North Dakota-Ghana Food Initiative, an effort by the North Dakota Trade Office, Praxis Strategy Group and AdFarm to collect state products that will be distributed in several rural villages in Ghana’s Central Region to help feed Ghanaian families.

Support from the state’s trade office and Department of Agriculture is invaluable because small companies like theirs cannot afford the marketing or research investment needed to break into new markets on their own.

“Africa is the emerging market for the next decade that’s expected to take the place of China and India as far as United States investment,” Flaten said.

The Ghanaian economy has been growing rapidly since 2010, resulting in a growing middle class, a change in the business and agriculture environments, and growing opportunities
for North Dakota’s exporters, said Dean Gorder, North Dakota Trade Office executive director.

“(North Dakota Trade Office) has had our eye on Ghana for the past few years, has visited Ghana three different times to gather research, and has been aware of the growing opportunities in the market for our North Dakota exporters,” he said.

The trade delegation will include manufactures of agricultural equipment, grain storage and handing, agricultural technology such as GPS systems and pulse crops producers.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring will lead the delegation, with representatives from North Dakota State University. They will join with another delegation led by North Dakota companies AdFarm and Praxis Strategy Group, Gorder said.

“This relationship could be quite significant for North Dakota, as it encompasses many of our food and commercial industries,” Gorder said. “(Ghana) is working diligently to improve its agricultural practices in order to feed its people…North Dakota can provide healthy food products that are not grown in the West African climate. The country is changing quickly, and we want North Dakota to be on the front of their radar when they need agricultural products.”