Ghana Agricultural News Digest – September 27, 2016

Below are some current developments on agriculture in Africa:

Media Reports
State Urged to Adopt Single Rice Seedlings
It is estimated that Ghana imports between US$200 and US$400 million rice annually. The amount is said to be one of the major factors that swells the country’s import bill, while putting pressure on the local cedi which is consistently losing value against the United States’ dollar. Due to the high demand for the cereal, particularly the perfumed brand, many business people have found rice imports a lucrative venture and are importing from all sources around the world. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Worawora Rice Limited, Mr. Yaw Adu Poku, has underscored the need for the country to adopt a single rice seedlings for local rice production in the country. That, he said, would help increase consumption and encourage farmers to cultivate more to enable the country to become the hub of rice production within the West African sub region. Speaking to the Graphic Business on the sidelines of a rice workshop, Mr. Opoku said the consumption of local rice every year was increasing, hence the state must capitalise on it in order to reap the results. “It is crucial for the country to adopt a single rice seedlings for local rice production in order to complement the increasing patronage due to the improving packaging, absence of stones and chaff in the cultivation of varieties similar to the imported ones,” he said.

USD 200,000 Rice Foundation Seeds Destroyed at Port
Sixty tonnes of foundation seeds worth US$200,000 meant for rice cultivation can no longer be used as seeds because they were kept at the Tema port for several months after they had arrived. The foundation seeds arrived at the port in January 2016 but the PVL was able to clear them at the beginning of September and after several tests had been conducted on them it was realised that they could no longer be used for the purpose for which they had been imported. “They spent about eight to nine months in the container so they have been cooking on the sea. For seeds like this, within three months or so you have to plant them. He said once the seeds were in the country, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture should have immediately taken control of them. Subsequently, he blamed the delay in clearing the seeds at the port on bureaucracy and the attitude of the government towards PVL. “This is one example of the attitude towards PVL and it is costing us,” he told the Daily Graphic when the paper visited the company at Aveyime in the North Tongu District in the Volta Region.

More Female Farmers Venture into Male-dominated Crop Production Areas
Over 100 women across the country took part in the two-day confab where members of the Women in Agribusiness Network of Ghana (WIANG) engaged in networking, learning and information sharing sessions on opportunities and new technologies in agribusiness. Maize, yams, cassava, sorghum, millet, cocoa, beans, palm oil, pineapples, cotton, tomatoes and plantain production are considered in several Ghanaian communities as ‘men crops’ due to the tedious nature of their cultivation or physical energy exerted in tilling land. Many female farmers have ventured into production of crops often seen as ‘men crops’, following an aggressive capacity building efforts undertaken by African Lead, to improve leadership skills of women into agribusiness across the country.  “I have gone through a lot of training, especially change for champions where a lot of different models have been introduced,” Hajia Alima Sagito Saed, Executive Director of Savannah Integrated Rural Development, said. “One of the key successes stories that we have learned or been able to impact to our women is to get their confidence to build and venture into otherwise men crops,” she told the Ghana News Agency at a Super Champions for Change Women’s Conference in Accra.

Shea Butter Export Reaches US$64m …but its Planting is Still Seen as Taboo
Export earnings from shea butter products last year reached US$64 million, up from US$52 million in 2014, a 23 percent growth over the previous year, according to the latest figures from the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA). In 2014, the sector recorded a growth rate of about 100 percent in export earnings when it increased from US$26 million in 2013 to US$52million in 2014. In the past five years, shea has been part of the top ten leading Non-Traditional export products from the country. Within the agriculture sub-sector for instance, shea nuts was the second highest export earner with US$34 million in 2015 behind cashew nuts. Despite the importance of shea to the country exports, many shea tree growing communities in the Upper East Region still believe that it is a taboo to plant the cash tree.

Ghana Commended for its Land Bill
Members of the International Land Coalition (ILC) in Africa and the Civil Society Coalition on Land (CICOL) have commended Ghana for its comprehensive Land Bill geared at addressing land reform concerns in the country. They also commended government of Ghana for involving diverse stakeholders in the process of the Bill, and showing the willingness to build consensus on contentious land issues. “Most African countries do not have even a land policy let alone a Land Bill”, Ms. Lilian Bruce a member of the Steering Committee told the Ghana News Agency. Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural Resource, who opened the forum on Monday announced that through the Land Administration Project, (LAP), Ghana’s Draft Land Bill had gone through the process of stakeholders’ consultation and was being formulated for Cabinet approval. The forum which enabled participants to understand the intricacies of land rights, and governance issues within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was on the theme: “Promoting People-Centered Land Governance in the implementation of the post 2015 agenda: Challenges and Opportunities in Africa”.

Farmers Wooed to Accept Genetically Modified Seeds
An Executive Member of the Ghana Grains Council, Mr. Gideon Aboagye, has wooed Ghanaian farmers to accept genetically modified seeds to improve crop yield and returns. He gave the high points of such hybrid seeds as having shorter maturation period, high-yielding and being pests and disease resistant, and said these were vital to boost food security. He was speaking at a workshop held in Kumasi for stakeholders in agriculture to discuss ways of raising food production to improve the livelihood of farmers. Mr. Aboagye indicated that the farmers would experience drastic upturn in agriculture production if they used those seeds. Madam Marietta Owusu Asante, a farmer, called for increased public education on the genetically modified seeds to remove any lingering anxiety.

SDGs can be Achieved with SADA Master Plan
The Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) has aligned its medium-term development plan, the SADA Master Plan, with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development (SDGs) to make it easier for the zone and the entire country to meet and exceed the global goals. In the plan, which is to be executed over a 25-year period, the 17 goals of the SDGs are made intermediate targets that should be met before the UN’s 2030 deadline. The Chief Executive Officer of the authority, Charles Abugre, recently said the move was to ensure that the Northern Savanna Ecological Zone (NSEZ) was not left behind in the march towards meeting the SDGs. “It will also help prevent a repeat of what happened with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), where majority of the communities under the NSEZ failed to meet the goals.” The SDGs, which are officially known as Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is a set of 17 aspirational global goals with 169 targets between them. They were adopted by UN member countries in September last year to help end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. The broad themes are part of a new sustainable development agenda, with each goal having specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

Lack of Regulatory Body Hinders Cashew Sector
A fundamental problem of the country’s cashew sector is the absence of a regulatory framework and body to manage, control and sustainably grow the sector, the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana has said. According to the association, it is essential that a legally constituted body is established, whilst a sustainable funding mechanism is put in place, alongside a well designed and implemented long term cashew development plan. Mr. Aaron Akyea, Executive Secretary of the association told the B&FT that demand for cashew nuts continues to rise in all major markets across the world, a reason the country needs to up its game. Private sector actors in the industry are hopeful a draft policy which is being fine-tuned, “when fully implemented will be an opportunity and serve as a guideline for industry players and members to use the document.” While raw nuts production in the country continues to rise through a natural rate of increase, it is not adequate to meet the 10% yearly increase in global demand for raw nuts.

‘Ghana Losing out on US$70billion Organic Agric Market’
The global market for organic agricultural produce is growing in leaps and bounds, but the country is hardly taking advantage of it, the Ghana Ecological Organic Agriculture Platform (GEOAP), has said, calling on government to sit up. Organic agriculture avoids the use of synthetic inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, veterinary drugs, and genetically modified foods, among others, that are believed to have adverse effects, to sustain the health of soils. Studies have shown that only about 19,132 hectares of land are under organic cultivation which accounts for 0.13percent of the total agricultural land area in Ghana. Globally, some 43.7 million hectares of agricultural land are said to be under organic cultivation, with Africa having only three percent of that. Market research company, Organic Monitor, estimates the global market for organic products in 2013 to have reached 72 billion US Dollars (approximately 55 billion euros).

Female Farmers Seek Favourable Agricultural Policies
Women farmers have called for the introduction of robust agricultural policies that favour females into agribusinesses to inject dynamism in farming practices towards ensuring food security. The female champions in agribusinesses, therefore, urged the Government to come out with comprehensive programmes to aid women access credit facilities, secure lands, receive special training to facilitate their farming activities. The policies should also seek to remove inimical traditional and cultural practices that prohibit females, particularly, rural women farmers, from owning landed property and business entities. The women were speaking to the Ghana News Agency at the Super Champions for Change Women’s Conference, organised by African Lead, a USAID primary capacity building programme in Sub Saharan Africa, with the support of Feed the Future – a US government global hunger and food security initiative.

Effects of Illegal Mining Activities on Water Resources for Irrigation Purposes, Amansie West District, Ghana
G Quansah, A Sadick, J Fenning, K Nketia, E Asamoah - International Journal of Scientific Research in Science, Engineering and Technology (…, 2016
This paper assessed the suitability of water in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region of Ghana for irrigation purposes and future planning of clean water resources. Twenty one (21) locations were selected on the major rivers and their tributaries in the district for sampling and the water samples taken at the depth of 15cm from the rivers. The samples were analyzed at Soil Research Institute’s Laboratory for irrigation water quality parameters and compared with international water quality standard set for irrigation. All the irrigation water quality parameters, pH, temperature, ECw, TDS, Ca, Mg, Na, K and SAR were within the permissible limit and suitable for irrigation. Heavy metals (Fe, Pb and Cd) levels were all within allowable limits except Mn and Zn. However, further study to examine anions such as bicarbonate and carbonate for irrigation suitability is recommended.

Impact of Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty Programme in Ghana: The Case of Wa West District
EBG Bawelle - International Journal of Social Science Research, 2016
It still remains an unanswered puzzle, why poverty in the three northern regions of Ghana remains very high in the midst of abundant resources and several policy interventions. The purpose of this study is to ascertain the extent to which the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) has improved welfare and reduced poverty in the Wa West District of Ghana. Arguing through the lens of the rights-based theoretical perspective, the study employed the difference-in-difference analytical technique to compare the extent to which poverty in the district has been lessened among beneficiaries of the LEAP programme against non-beneficiaries. The results show that the LEAP programme had a positive impact on food security as LEAP beneficiaries were more satisfied with their food consumption as compared to non-beneficiaries. Also there was a significant difference between the percentages of LEAP beneficiaries enrolled onto the NHIS as compared to non-beneficiaries. On the effect of the LEAP programme on access to credit, the study reveals that there exists a significant difference between the beneficiary group and non-beneficiary group and that access to credit amongst the beneficiary group is significantly higher than the non-beneficiary group.

Agricultural Microcredit and Technical Efficiency: The Case of Smallholder Rice Farmers in Northern Ghana
BT Anang, S Bäckman, T Sipiläinen - Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development …, 2016
In the current study, we compared technical efficiency of smallholder rice farmers with and without credit in northern Ghana using data from a farm household survey. We fitted a stochastic frontier production function to input and output data to measure technical efficiency. We addressed self-selection into credit participation using propensity score matching and found that the mean efficiency did not differ between credit users and non-users. Credit-participating households had an efficiency of 63.0 percent compared to 61.7 percent for non-participants. The results indicate significant inefficiencies in production and thus a high scope for improving farmers’ technical efficiency through better use of available resources at the current level of technology. Apart from labour and capital, all the conventional farm inputs had a significant effect on rice production. The determinants of efficiency included the respondent’s age, sex, educational status, distance to the nearest market, herd ownership, access to irrigation and specialisation in rice production. From a policy perspective, we recommend that the credit should be channelled to farmers who demonstrate the need for it and show the commitment to improve their production through external financing. Such a screening mechanism will ensure that the credit goes to the right farmers who need it to improve their technical efficiency.

Towards Genetically Engineered Crops in Ghanaian Agriculture: Confined Field Trials and the ‘Next-door Neighbor Effect’ Theory
IDK Agorsor, L Yafetto, EP Otwe, IKA Galyuon – 2016 – The journal of Agrobiotechnology Management & Economics
Genetically engineered (GE) crops have a role to play in increasing agricultural productivity. However, efforts to promote genetic engineering agriculture in Africa have been met with some amount of resistance. Here, we report recent efforts to promote GE agriculture in Ghana, a West African nation considered one of Africa’s model democracies and growing economies. Ghana is currently running confined field trials of some selected GE crops, but analysis of ongoing genetically modified organism (GMO) debates and published opinions shows a considerable amount of opposition to GE agriculture and GMOs in Ghana. This notwithstanding, we suggest that Bt cotton cultivation in Burkina Faso—Ghana’s immediate neighbor to the north—may play a role in eventually putting Ghana on the map of GE agriculture countries, a phenomenon reported elsewhere which we have described in this article as the ‘next-door neighbor effect.’ The biosafety implications of the ‘next-door neighbor effect’ are also discussed here. We conclude that the ‘next-door neighbor effect’—in addition to corporate and political interests—will explain the entry of GE crops into some new markets.

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