The Latest Millet Smoothie In Town

In a small factory at Mallam Atta, a young woman called Aminatu puts cups of ground millet in a sieve and rolls her hands vigorously over them until the millet forms tiny balls. These tiny balls are the beginning of what would become the most sought-after beverage on the streets of Accra-Burkina. On the streets of Accra today, it is common to see men and women selling a milk product combined with wheat, popularly called Burkina. The uniqueness of the emerging popular drink is that it is locally produced with local materials. Made from ancient grain-millet, with its sweet flavour, milk, salt and sugar, Burkina has gone from just being a beverage to food that satisfies the pangs in the stomach of many people. In Accra, Tema, Koforidua, Kumasi, Akwatia and Tamale, hawkers weave through traffic to satisfy the needs of consumers. Point of correction, the name is Burkina and not Brukina as you may have heard. Burkina originated from Burkina Faso and its original name is ‘Deger.’ The production of Burkina has become a growing business which has indeed come to add to other locally brewed beverages such as “ice kenkey,” made from maize. Mr Amadu Suleman has been assisting her mother, Madam Zainabu Suleman, at the Zainab Burkina Enterprise, where a small factory has been set to produce the Burkina. They have employed 12 young women and men for the production. The small factory has four different sections: the bottling section, where the mixing of the milk is done and the selling point where people come to buy and a kitchen for the cooking of the milk. Mr Suleman, who is serving as the supervisor, told this reporter that Burkina has a lifespan of 24 hours if it is not frozen because there is no chemical for preservations, but he explained that it could last for two weeks if it is frozen. Marketing The Burkina business seems to be making strides on the market and is competing with other drinks. The factories where the drink is produced have so far not engaged in any form of advertisement. The sale of Burkina is mostly in shops, stalls and on the street. The price ranges from GH˘1 to GH˘5, depending on the sizes and the producer. It is kept in plastic bowls with ice blocks to keep it at a cool temperature and is best served when chilled. At the Zainab Burkina Enterprise, Mr Suleman said they sold mainly to shops, stalls, companies and individuals, and added that “customers are not only from Accra but also from Koforidua, Kumasi, Swedru, Tema and other parts of the country.” Mr Bello Mohammed Abubakar, who came to buy a large quantity of the product at the Zainab Burkina Enterprise, stated that he came from Akwatia in the Eastern Region. “I come all the way from Akwatia twice or three times a week to buy the Burkina from Zainab Burkina Enterprise to sell at my hometown,” he said. He said patronage was very high at Akwatia. Rashidatu, a hawker, says “I am able to make GH˘15 if I am able to sell 60 bottles a day.” Rashidatu, who used to work as a head porter, sees the Burkina business as more rewarding. An avenue for employment? There have been many cries by the youth that there are no jobs in the country. However, small-cale enterprises such as the Burkina business could be an avenue for self -employment. It is estimated that about four million people out of the 14 million people within the age group of 15-64, regarded as active or working population, are without employment. This is equivalent to about 28 per cent of the total active population (15-64) of Ghana. The proportion of Ghanaians without employment even increases to 47.2 per cent if we consider only paid employment. This translates into about 6.7 million active Ghanaians who are not in any paid employment. The worst affected groups of the Ghanaian job crisis are women, young people, the physically challenged and the elderly. Food and Drugs Authority Some of the producers have already approached the Food and Drugs Authority to register their business and to ensure that the product is up to the standard and requirement of the authority. The Head of Animal Product and Biosafety Department of the FDA, Mr Kofi Essel, told this reporter that they were already engaging some of the producers they had identified in trainings on hygienic operations to ensure that they operated under hygienic conditions. The initiative by the FDA to support and encourage the operators of the Burkina is good. Although the FDA has identified some of the producers and engaged them, they should continue identifying more of them and engage them more on the need to maintain hygiene to ensure that consumers are protected.