Ghana’s former status as a veritable bread basket of the subregion in the early to late 1970s is being revived as buyers from West African countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Burkina Faso, troop to farm gates in Ghana for cereals, vegetables and other farm produce to buy.
The trend is seen as evidence that the various sectors of Ghana’s economy continue to respond positively to the pragmatic and the results-oriented policies and programmes being implemented by the New Patriotic Party government under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Both Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire are success stories in agriculture, according to World Bank reports. Together with Ghana, they have been cited in the World Bank’s last performance report on sub-Saharan West African countries as having performed creditably.
The agricultural sector, for instance, which is being revamped to take its rightful place as the backbone of the economy, is now booming, with excess foodstuffs available for export.
Records show that the last time Ghana engaged in such exports of agricultural produce, apart from cocoa, and modestly so, was as far back as 2007.
But the dwindling fortunes of the agricultural sector between 2009 and 2016 brought a reversal of this, compelling the country to spend billions of dollars to import tonnes of these same food items from other countries
PFJ to the rescue
However, under the successful implementation of the NPP government’s flagship initiative, dubbed Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), the nation has witnessed phenomenal improvements in the agricultural sector.
According to figures collated from 15 districts in four regions, namely Ashanti, Eastern, Volta and Western, roughly 2,415 and 107,136 tonnes of yellow and white maize, respectively, were exported to Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso in 2018.
Other food items such as yams, cowpeas and cassava are also being exported, according to records tracking the movements of foodstuffs in major markets across the country.
As a result of implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) campaign by the current government, Ghana now exports maize from the Ejura-Sekyere-Odumase communities of Ashanti to Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire.
By the end of 2018, about 2,008 tonnes of yellow maize were exported to Cote d’Ivoire, while 2,174 tonnes of white maize were carted to Burkina Faso following the successful implementation of PFJ.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) reports that Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso now rely heavily on Ghana for the supply of about six food commodities. Thus, in 2018, Ghana exported about 351,562 tonnes of various foodstuffs to Burkina Faso alone.
Reports say 13,394 tonnes of plantain and 16,413 tonnes of bananas were exported from the Abofour Market, near Offinso in the Ashanti Region, to Burkina Faso last year. This is in addition to 3,275 tonnes of citrus and 1,465 metric tonnes of pawpaw exported from the same market to Burkina Faso over the same period.
According to MOFA, 1,655 tonnes of ginger, 2,294 tonnes of palm fruits and 2,207 metric tonnes of palm oil were exported to Burkina Faso.
Tumu Market in the Upper West Region has also played a critical role in this success story as roughly 11,187 tonnes of various produce, including white and yellow maize, sorghum, soya beans, cowpeas, bananas, gari, oranges and yams, were exported from here to Burkina Faso alone.
The way forward
Clearly delighted by the huge growth in production and export figures, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, says MOFA is now considering how to process some of these foodstuffs to add value to them.
“The essence of this exercise is to tell the world that the Planting for Food and Jobs programme has brought about so much food in the system that we are now exporting food to neighbouring countries,” Dr Akoto says.
The next stage is for MOFA to support agro-processing in order to add value to the produce.
BY: CHRIS LARTEY & RICHARD BOAHEN