Ghana can raise the standard of living of rural farmers, meet the nation’s food needs, and transform the economy through new approaches to farming, processing, and marketing cassava, cocoa, poultry, and rice, a new ACET report finds. The report, Promoting Sustainable Rural Transformation, was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
In 2000, 80 percent of the chicken consumed in Ghana was produced in Ghana. By 2010, only 10 percent. “A dollar spent on imported foods is a lost opportunity for jobs at home,” Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Hon. (Dr.) Yakubu Alhassan, emphasized in his opening. As the country pushes for consumption of made-in-Ghana products, this report shows the constraints to production and how to overcome them. To boost poultry production, for instance, the report highlights that used fridges can be modified to hatch eggs.
“Agriculture remains the natural pathway for Ghana’s transformation,” Hon Alhassan added. The study brings insights into how to make that happen, especially through agroprocessing. Presenting the report to stakeholders, Dr. Julius Gatune, a senior Policy Advisor at ACET and the principal author of the report, said, “Take cassava. Most of the local production is geared towards varieties that make good fufu. As a Kenyan expatriate, I too have come to appreciate the value of fufu, but local industries are in desperate need of varieties that make good beer and starch too. That’s an opportunity for expansion of production.”
On the surface, labor is cheap and abundant in Ghana, but the farmers surveyed reported skilled labor as one of their biggest constraints. To overcome the labor constraints and to boost yield, the report calls for a mega shift towards mechanization. While the value of Ghana’s cocoa exports have been increasing steadily, the country’s productivity is only one-third that of benchmark countries. Production is dominated by aging, illiterate farmers who do not have the resources to rehabilitate farms and cannot take up new technologies. In this constraint Dr. Gatune sees an opportunity for a new trend: “It’s an opportunity for a middle class sharecropper, one who brings capital and technology in return for a share of profits.”
The Ghana study is part of a larger study of five countries (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) that promote sustainable rural transformation.