Ghana Agricultural News Digest – June 6, 2016

Below are some current developments on agriculture in Africa:

Media Reports
Coffee Sector at the Cross-roads
The country’s coffee sector is at a vital crossroad as it remains to be seen if government will keep its word to increase production from 6,000 metric tonnes currently to 100,000 metric tonnes per annum in the short- to medium-term, to take advantage of rising global demand. Government’s promise to revive the sector is in keeping with growth in global demand for coffee, specifically from the Asian market. As part of the plan five million improved early maturing and high yielding coffee seedlings are being raised to be distributed freely to farmers interested in growing the crop. “With an average yield of 2 to 3 metric tonnes per hectare and with a projected planting area of 100,000 hectares over the next six years, it is estimated that from 2020 onward about 100,000 metric tonnes of coffee can be produced annually in this country, which will subsequently increase to about 200,000 metric tonnes over the next decade,” President Mahama said in February. “This number will be substantially increased annually to ensure that we achieve the 100,000 hectares of coffee farms in the targetted locations by 2020.” The plan will be backed with readily available marketing channels for farmers, and coffee-growing will coexist with the cocoa industry without sacrificing the interests of cocoa farmers…

Inadequate Processing Mills Hampering Rice Production
Efforts at increasing local rice production to curb over-reliance on importation of the commodity to meet local consumption demand is being undermined by lack of adequate infrastructure—specifically rice processing mills—in rice-producing communities of the country, Food and Agriculture Minister Alhaji Mohammed Limuna has indicated. Currently, farmers in the three northern regions have their harvest for 2014/2015 farming seasons—thousands of bags of rice—locked up in warehouses due to the unavailability of mills to process the commodity, a situation that has compelled the farmers to use manual means of rice processing which do not meet market demand. According to the minister, the situation is an impediment to government’s quest to motivate rice farmers into boosting local production of the commodity to cushion food security, aside from robbing the farmers of their primary source of livelihood. He said: “Lack of rice-processing plants in the Northern Region is making it difficult to produce to feed the nation and produce quality rice that meets market specifications….

 Cocoa Purchases to Increase by 50,000 Metric Tonnes this Year
Cocoa purchases by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for the 2016/2017 crop season is to increase by 50,000 metric tonnes over the 850,000 metric tonnes purchased last year. This increase, which brings the expected total purchases for this year to 900,000 metric tonnes, would be made possible with the approval by Parliament, on Wednesday, of a GH¢ 2 billion loan facility to be sourced from a consortium of financial institutions. The institutions include Deutsche Bank, Natixis of France, Nedbank Limited of South Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, Societe General, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishe UFJ Limited, with the DZ Bank AG of Germany as Co-Arranger. The facility would also enable COCOBOD to make payments to some stakeholders. COCOBOD is expecting to purchase the cocoa beans at an average price of 3,100 dollars per metric tonne. The loan would be used to collateralise about 645,162 metric tonnes of cocoa. It is also expecting an estimated revenue of 2.79 billion dollars, out of which about 72% represents the two billion-dollar facility. Part of the funding would be invested to boost cocoa roads that lead to cocoa-growing areas and to shore up other activities relating to the transportation of the raw material from the farms to various destinations…

Komenda Factory Requires 225,000 Metric Tonnes of Sugar cane
The newly-inaugurated US$36million Komenda Sugar Factory requires 225,000 metric tonnes of sugarcane every other six months to operate at optimal capacity, according to Nitin Wagh, President of SEFTECH - the project contractor. “For a plant with a capacity to crush 1,250 tonnes per day for 180 days (six months), it requires 225,000 metric tonnes of sugarcane. The main crushing season is from November-April. May-October is the maintenance period when there is no sugarcane for processing. If you crush 1,250 tonnes of sugarcane, there is 10 percent recovery. This also depends on what quality of sugarcane you have. With the best quality, recovery can go as high as 15 or 16 percent of sugar. So if you crush 100 tonnes, you get about 15 or16 tonnes of white sugar,” said Mr. Wagh. The factory was constructed with a loan facility of US$35million from the government of India-sponsored Exim Bank of India; Line of Credit with an interest of 1.75 percent; and a counterpart funding of US$1.26 million from the government of Ghana (GoG). The agreement was signed with SEFTECH as the contractor in September 2013. The Letter of Credit (LC) was established in October 2014 with delivery of the project expected in two years; that is, in October 2016. The Loan has an interest of 1.75 percent, with a five-year moratorium. Repayment starts in the sixth year…

 Ghana Spends $2million to Import Sugar
President John Dramani Mahama has disclosed that Ghana spends $2 million to import sugar into the country every year. According to him, Ethiopia and some countries depend on the production of sugar for their development. President Mahama made this known during the inauguration of a $35 million sugar factory at Komenda in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abram (KEEA) Municipality of the Central Region on Monday. The factory is expected to produce 250,000 tons of sugar per year, and it is estimated that the factory, when fully operational, will provide direct and indirect jobs for some 7, 300 people. President Mahama stated that the new sugar processing facility would help to add value to Ghanaian exports. He indicated that a $24 million loan facility had been secured from the India Government to support the farmers, adding part of the loan would be used to establish irrigation facility which would cover 2,000 aces to serve as a core farm to feed the factory…

CSOs Stance and Scientist Support for the Adoption of GMOs
According to the scientists, Ghana must also consider mainstreaming biotechnology into its crop and animal improvement plans to guarantee sustainable food security for the populace. They cautioned that, “If in 10 years time we don’t invest in biotechnology we will face a lot of problems” in terms of food security. Biotechnology is a technological application that uses biotechnological systems including living organisms or derivatives to make or modify products or processes for specific uses. The living organisms may be plants, animals or micro organisms. While Genetically Modified (GM) crops are formed from the movement of genes artificially from one organism to another, to form new products with desired characteristics. Some civil society organisations and individuals in the county have however raised concerns about the technological innovation, maintaining that its adoption would create a dependency syndrome that could jeopardize the country’s food sovereignty as its food crop production would be dependent on multinational seed and pesticides companies…

Ghana’s Agric Sector in Disarray - KNUST Prof.
A lecturer with the agriculture department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Professor Simon Cudjoe Fialor has described Ghana’s agriculture sector as disjointed and lacking of policy direction. According to Dr Fialor, everything being done from the policy level as far as agriculture is concerned is not always done in conformity with the reality on the ground. His observation comes as Ghana’s agriculture is growing at 2.3 percent as per the recent figures released on reviews of Ghana’s economic growth for the year 2015. Professor Fialor points out that the country is being punished for the trend; as monies invested into agriculture is going down the drain. He tells Ultimate News, until deliberate targets are set with timelines and proper structures; Ghana’s progress in agriculture will continue to lag behind compared to its West African neighbours…

Food Scientist Creates Competitive Advantage for Food Processors
The local food processing industry in Ghana is still budding and requires boosting in order to meet required standards, to offer consumers high quality products, owners the right satisfaction and good profit margins. Operating as small medium scale enterprises (SMEs), the food processing sector largely found in the informal sector of the economy, employs a huge chunk of people. In Ghana, readily available data on SMEs is scarce but statistics from the Registrar General’s Department suggests that 92 per cent of companies registered are micro, small and medium enterprises. SMEs in Ghana have also been noted to provide about 85 per cent of employment and contributing 70 per cent to Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which has catalytic impacts on economic growth, income and employment.  Apart from being an important source of employment and income in many developing countries, SMEs with their flexible nature have a better adaptability to changing market conditions, making them better suited to withstand cyclical downturns. The dispersion of SMEs across the nation also promotes better distribution of income, and generates additional value in raw materials and products, even as they bring about efficiencies in domestic markets…

COCOBOD was Prudent in its Spending – Amenya
The Head of Communications for Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Noah Amenya has debunked claims that his outfit blew monies during the signing of agreement between the group of Banks and COCOBOD. Speaking to Nii Ardey Clerk of Starr FM, Mr. Amenya gave a breakdown of the amount spent on the signing agreement. An amount of $12,000 was used to provide a facility for over 30 Banks with 2 or more representatives gathered in Paris, France to sign the 1.8 Billion Dollar Loan facility. They therefore needed a venue that could accommodate the over 100 participants, while providing maximum security, especially coming from the backdrop of Terrorist attacks in Europe. The facility also provided refreshment for the high level dignitaries from the financial sector across the world. Part of the $20,000 being speculated was used to procure a high-level security domain for a web platform that provided access to all partners of the loan agreement to track progress on the usage of the loan. The Loan, which is the highest soft commodity loan on the sub Saharan Africa, was used to buy cocoa from the farmers and provide support in the form of Fertilizers and seedlings to help their yield. Part of the money is being used to construct Roads across 7 cocoa growing Regions in Ghana…

MOFA Commits to Reducing Poverty among Smallholder Farmers
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) says it is committed to adequately financing small scale farmers to ensure food security and reduce poverty among them. According to MOFA, it has recently embarked on a number of initiatives to facilitate access to finance by small-holder farmers to increase their productivity.  These include the provision of public irrigation facilities as a safeguard against climate change, the promotion of nucleus smallholder models and the development of drought tolerant seeds. Other measures are the fertilizer subsidy program which reduces considerably production cost and access to credits at a low rate as well as the introduction of modern equipment for efficient mechanization. “The above initiatives increase the productivity of smallholders, reduce poverty through increased income improves and strengthens supply chain for value addition….This is the way to go for agricultural development and improvement of the lives of our smallholder farmers, thus reducing rural poverty in its wake,” USAID Technical advisor at MOFA, Kwesi Korboe said. He was speaking at the official launch of the Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) in Kumasi…

Government Initiates Country Wide Tree Growing Programme
Mr. Mahama Ayariga, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology (MESTI) says MESTI through its agencies has initiated a country-wide tree growing programme to ensure sustainable utilisation of the country’s biological resources and promote greening. He said the Forestry Commission would provide the Ministry with 50 million seeds to nurse the seedlings and distributed to the traditional rulers in the regions for plantation. He encouraged people to plant economic trees as there are many incentives that could be derived from planting them. Mr. Ayariga, made this known in an interview with Ghana News Agency at the World Environment Day commemoration at the First Infantry Battalion, Michel Camp in Tema Metropolis on Sunday. He noted that public awareness among stakeholders have been done to ensure proper acquisition of land for the growing of trees. Mr. Ayariga said the Ministry would soon launch a major tree planting initiative involving schools to provide students with incentives to plant trees …

FARA to Hold 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week in Rwanda
This year’s 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) General Assembly, would take place in Kigali, Rwanda from June 13- June- 16 June. The AASW and FARA General Assembly is the principal forum for stakeholders in African agriculture science, technology and innovation to take stock of their collective achievements over the past three years and chart a common agenda along with modalities for achieving their collective targets over the next three years. The event, would focus on the operationalisation of the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa at country level on the theme:  “Apply Science, Impact Livelihoods,” would feature activities such as plenary sessions, an exhibition, the Rwanda day, to showcase its achievements in agricultural research and innovation and a business session. FARA, is co-organising the programme jointly with sub-regional Agricultural Research Organisations, African Union Commission and NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Education Networks, The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation and the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture. Briefing Journalists in Accra, Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of FARA said the content of the programme would be organised around five …

Group Petitions Parliament on Plant Breeders Bill
Scientists, farmers and other stakeholders supporting poverty reduction and agricultural improvement in Ghana, have submitted a petition to the Speaker of Parliament to reactivate the passage of the Plant Breeders Bill (PBB), which is on hold. According to the petitioners there is an urgent need to pass the PBB in Ghana in order to foster innovation so that plant breeders develop better varieties of crops for use by Ghana's farmers. The petitioners include the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) of the University of Ghana, the Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen, the Ghana Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission and the Cornell Alliance for Science, Cornell University. A statement issued by the group and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Monday said the petition, which could be viewed online at http://wacci.edu.gh/content/ghana-plant-breeders-bill have been signed by more than 200 persons, many of whom are  national experts and practitioners. It said these crops might be drought-tolerant, climate resilient, higher yielding, pest or disease-resistant or have other benefits such as enhanced nutrient content. The statement noted that the petition was produced and backed by…

Cassava Processors Advised to Improve Handling Practices
The Ghana Australia Alumni Association (G3A), has held a capacity building programme for 50 cassava processors from Ada East and Ada West to improve handling practices. The cassava processors were taken through improved ways of processing cassava and its products, good hygienic and safe environmental handling techniques to boost their competitiveness on the local and international markets. Cassava is widely promoted by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as an important crop that contributes to food security and poverty alleviation. However, because of poor technical know-how, processors often employ unhygienic practices thereby reducing the quality of the products. It is in this direction that G3A with support from the Australia Direct Aid Programme (DAP) and the Eastern Regional Agricultural Department organised an exposure visit for 50 cassava processors to Milenovise Good Practice Centre in Korkormu, in the Region. Secretary of G3A, Ms. Mildred Suglo said research had shown that a high percentage of food sold in Ghana does not conform to microbiological standards and pose a threat to human health….

ADB Rejects Subscriber Offer of GH¢2.00
The Agricultural Development Bank Limited (adb) has rejected the GH¢2.00 offer the subscribers of its Initial Public Offer (IPO) have made instead of the GH¢2.65 contained in their prospectus. "The adb wishes to bring to the attention of subscribers of its IPO, its shareholders, the investor community, customers of the bank and other stakeholders that the bank has rejected offers made by all subscribers of its IPO at GH¢2.00 instead of GH¢2.65 as contained in its prospectus,” it said. A statement signed by Nana Soglo Alloh IV, the Board Chairman of the bank and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, said following the bank’s rejection of offers made at GH¢2.00 and the directive from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the bank had directed IC Securities, their transaction advisor, to return to applicants all monies received in respect of the offer. It said consequently IC Securities would shortly issue a notice to subscribers of the IPO on the modalities for the refund. The statement said the bank was desirous and determined to be part of the capital market through the listing of its shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange and was, therefore, in consultation with its shareholders, the SEC, and other stakeholders to re-launch its offer as soon as possible…

Forestry Commission Seeks Tighter Laws
The Forestry Commission (FC) is seeking assent to a draft policy that will ensure that only legally-sourced wood is used for all government projects in the country, in a bid to discourage the activities of illegal chainsaw operators and facilitate a sustainable forest management regime. According to the Trade and Industry Development Manager-TIDD at the Commission, Peter Edem Zormelo, the draft timber procurement policy will help to increase timber yield as well as reposition the industry to be more responsive to consumers’ needs. Addressing a gathering of wood producers, real estate developers, investors and technocrats at a national stakeholders’ conference on the local wood and furniture industry in Accra, he said: “We are seeking assent to a draft policy on timber procurement that will ensure only legal wood products are used for all government projects in the country. “The new law seeks to discourage deforestation and stimulate sustained yield of timber as well as help to conserve the environment under a sustainable forest management regime…

Reports/Articles
Potential of Millets: Nutrients Composition and Health Benefits
ES Sarita - Journal of Scientific and Innovative Research, 2016
Millet grains have substantial benefits as a draught resistant crop, yield good productivity in the areas with water scarcity, possesses remarkable edible & nutritive values, and ease of processing & food manufacturing. Agriculture & Food security policymakers of developing countries should give due attention in promoting the research work & projects for studying the processing, food manufacturing, improvement in nutritive values and potential health benefits of the millet grains to promote their utilization as food in respective countries. Most of the developing countries have already started working in the field of improvement of edible potential of millet grains. Millet oil could be a good source of linoleic acid and tocopherols. Millet is an alkaline forming grain that is gluten-free. Millets are also rich sources of phytochemicals and micronutrients, play many roles in the body immune system. Millets have nutraceutical properties in the form of antioxidants which prevent deterioration of human health such as lowering blood pressure, risk of heart disease, prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, decreasing tumor cases etc. Other health benefits are increasing the time span …

Competitiveness of Oil Palm Production Systems in Nigeria: A Policy Analysis Matrix Approach
MI Abdul-Qadir, VO Okoruwa, KK Salman - 2016
There is demand-supply gap in palm oil production in the country, coupled with nonattainment of self-sufficiency in palm oil production in the country. Therefore, this study evaluates the competitiveness of oil palm production systems in Nigeria using policy analysis matrix. Data were collected with multistage sampling procedures through the administration of well-structured questionnaires. The results showed that oil palm production in Nigeria is classified into small, medium and large scale systems and the three systems are competitive in the production of palm oil and palm kernel under existing market prices. The private profits for the three production systems, the large, medium and small scale were N1, 131,350, N 607,443 and N 99,640 respectively, which indicates that the large scale system is more competitive at private levels followed by medium scale system. The social profits for small, medium and large scale systems were N 773, 649, N 1,023,067 and N 1,417,059 respectively, which implies comparative advantage of all the systems confirmed by DRC of 0.3806, 0.3639 and 0.2668 for small, medium and large scale systems respectively. Thus, Nigeria has comparative advantage in palm oil production for export. The net transfer and subsidy ratios were negative, which display poor protectionist policies and …

A Review Of The Application Of Leadership Principles In Agricultural Extension In Ghana
EK Tham-Agyekum - 2016
This paper studies the application of leadership principles in agricultural extension activities. Literature was reviewed on the various definitions of leadership, the various theories that undergird leadership, the types of leaders, the extension worker as a leader, leadership and rural development and then practical application of leadership in relation to the Ghanaian context. Data was mainly sourced from the internet. The study concludes that leadership is a critical component of effective agricultural extension activities, yet remains a deficient research area. While there are limited documented cases of its application in Ghana especially in relation to agricultural extension, the paper recommends that leadership must be intertwined into all phases of programmes and become a critical aspect of extension and agricultural development in Ghana. In order to effectively empower clientele, extension staff should receive training in leadership development and then transfer the knowledge and skills learned to rural communities and ensure leadership is practiced successfully…

Small Farmers’ Preferences for the Design of Certification Schemes: Does Gender Matter?
EM Meemken, PC Veettil, M Qaim - 2016
Farmers’ preferences for sustainability certification are analyzed, building on a choice experiment conducted with smallholder coffee growers in Uganda. Farmers have positive general attitudes towards certification. While they dislike bans of productivity-enhancing inputs, benefits associated with agricultural training and special female support are appreciated. Many also see requirements that have to be met for certification as a welcome nudge to invest in better farm management and quality upgrading. Gender-disaggregated data reveal that female farmers have a higher preference for sustainability certification than male farmers. Also within households, significant preference heterogeneity between males and females is found for some certification attributes…Sustainable approaches to global food production and poverty alleviation have recently attracted considerable interest in the wider public. This is also reflected in the proliferation of voluntary food standards and certification schemes with a focus on sustainability, such as…

* The GSSP News Digest just summarizes news that is reported in the press. Any errors of fact or omission are not IFPRI’s responsibility*