By TBY | Ghana | May 21, 2018
The agriculture industry is one of the largest in Ghana. With new government initiatives the sector is poised to transform the economy.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UnitedNations (FAO), about 52% of Ghana’s more than 25 million citizens works in agriculture, with 29% working in services and 19% in industry. With more than half of the country working in the sector, it accounts for an understandable portion of GDP, approximately 54%. Additionally, some 40% of the country’s export earnings come from agriculture. The sector provides Ghana with more than 90% of its food needs, and is mostly smallholding and rain fed.
FAO records that close to 60% of the country’s total land area, or 136,000sqkm, is classified by the government as arable land, with just under 25%, or 58,000sqkm, under cultivation and 11,000ha being irrigated. Some 60% of the country’s farms are smaller than 1.2ha, with only 15% of farms larger than 2ha. Small- and medium-sized farms take up 95% of the country’s cultivated land. While it is common for cash crops to be monocropped, other staple crops are generally mixed-cropped.
Cocoa is Ghana’s primary export, and its production and sale is regulated by the Ghana Cocoa Board, which fixes the buying price for the crop. Recent estimates value the country’s cocoa exports at over USD2.2 billion annually.
The ecological zone known as the forest zone is where the country’s tree crops are predominantly grown; these include cocoa, palm oil, and coffee, as well as rubber. Here, maize, plantain, cocoyam, and cassava are also grown. In the middle belt of the country, maize, legumes, cocoyam, tobacco, and cotton are the predominantly grown cash crops. In the north of Ghana, farmers grow mostly sorghum, maize, millet, cowpeas, groundnuts, and yams. Rice is grown throughout the country.
Though crop farming is the key component of the country’s agriculture sector, many farmers keep livestock as well. The south is a major region for poultry production, while in the country’s savannah zones cattle are reared. Goat and sheep rearing is common throughout the country. Livestock products account for about 7% of agriculture production, according to FAO.
In December 2016, Ghana elected a president from the New Patriotic Party, who ran campaigning for, among other things, the restructuring of Ghana’s industries. In August 2017, President Nana Akufo-Addo initiated the One District, One Factory policy, which is working to bring at least one major factory or industry to each of the country’s 216 districts as a means of spurring economic development and growing the economy.
Ground recently broke on construction for the first of these new factories: the Ekumfi Fruits and Juices Company. The factory will be able to process and package close to 80 tons of fruit per day and 25,600 tons per year. While the new factory is set to employ 250 people, combined direct and indirect employment for the project is expected to exceed 5,000. The government hopes to open more than 50 factories across the country by the end of the year, and with agriculture driving so much of GDP, many of these factories are likely to further support and develop the industry. Needed to make this project successful, especially for agriculture industries, are serious infrastructure improvements and energy supplies.
To get a better picture of the One District, One Factory initiative, TBY sat down with Amit Agrawal, Senior Vice President & Country Head, who talked about the general response among business leaders. “We welcome the drive from the government to promote growth in all districts and regions. We hope entrepreneurs will take advantage and set up businesses related to agriculture or other related industries in the interior of the country,” Agrawal said. “That should help both the coordination and the aggregation of agricultural produce from various parts of Ghana. Equally, Olam sees opportunities for the government to invest in infrastructure in farming communities to help them get market access.”