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The agriculture sector

Sunday, april 16th 2017

Agriculture accounts for about 20 % of Ghana's GDP and employs 44.7 % of the working population. Ghana has 5 agro-economic regions corresponding to the geographical areas listed above. This diversity allows the country to benefit from a dynamic agriculture. 65 % of Ghana's land is devoted to agriculture and production accounts for 30 % of exports (oil included).


The main cash crops are cocoa, palm oil and fruit. Marginal cash crops are coconut, rubber, cashew, cotton, coffee and horticulture.


The dominant agricultural sector is cocoa, of which Ghana is the second largest producer in the world after Ivory Coast (together, they account for 70% of the world market share). Cocoa is cultivated in the centre of the country, from the Ashanti plateau to the Volta basin. Ghana can produce up to 850 000 tonnes of beans during good harvests (such as in 2015).



But the sector faces difficulty because of its strong dependence to climatic vagaries and raw materials prices. Between bad harvest and lower cocoa price, production stalls. Due to stagnant global demand, cocoa prices fell by 25% in November 2016. Cocoa producers are mostly small farmers. The public company Ghana Cocoa Board guarantees a minimum price for beans in order to support production.


The production of palm oil has been steadily increasing since the 1990s (it has tripled since then). This sector has been partly supported by the French agency for development (FAD) as a mean of supporting small farms through the development of sustainable crops. With 520 million tonnes produced in 2014, Ghana is the world's 8th largest producer. Production is divided between family and industrial farms.


The Ghanaian climate is suitable for market gardening, which is destined to the internal and external market. The country produces bananas, pineapples, oranges, mangoes and papayas.



Since the creation of Golden Exotics (Compagnie Fruitière subsidiary) in 2003, Ghana produces bananas and pineapples industrially (respectively 50 000 and 6 000 tonnes per year). Both crops have been Fairtrade certified since 2013 and organic banana production started in 2014.

Ghana is also a horticultural country, whose production is destined for export. The Netherlands is one of the leading export partners.


Food crops include cassava, yam, taro, plantain, maize, sorghum and rice. These do not allow food self-sufficiency and Ghana has to import rice to meet its domestic needs.



Ghana's livestock is increasing steadily, but the country still needs to import a large part of its consumption.


Fishery production in 2014 amounted to 374,500 tonnes. Fish is the primary source of protein for Ghanaians. Like its Ivorian neighbour, Ghana exports mainly tuna, canned locally. Ghana fails to cover its own consumption and must import to meet the national demand.


Overfishing has led to depopulation of fish stocks, which has prompted Ghana to seek USAID assistance to protect its reserves.


The bottleneck of Ghanaian agriculture is its weak modernization. The farms are small and not mechanized. The government has made it one of the economic priorities within the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA II) 2014-2017. The issues to address are the lack of investment and the access to credit. These policies are part of ECOWAS action and its regional policy (Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program).

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