Competitiveness of the Ghanaian vegetable sector: Findings from a farmer survey
This study (PDF) by IFPRI looks broadly at the state of vegetable competitiveness in Ghana; focusing on trade, production, profitability, and marketing. Ghana depends on import to meet local consumption requirements of horticulture foods. Seasonality is one reason that vegetable production cannot meet local demand, though a much larger area is suitable for vegetable production. Low-yields are another important reason for limited supply, possibly due to the varieties used. Making suitable varieties available is an important avenue for increasing productivity. Plant protection is also important for vegetable production; the knowledge of vegetable farmers of the chemicals and their proper use is now limited. Furthermore, there is also a need to improve soil management through crop rotation and application of (in)organic nutrient source. Despite low yields, average gross margins for the selected vegetables are much higher than can be obtained from the cultivation of crops. However returns are heterogeneous, which is explained by differences in yields and prices obtained. Unlike farmers, traders are well organized. Wholesalers who take produce to major markets have organized themselves into associations, which exercise control to various degrees. While imports usually meet the excess demand for vegetables in Ghana, there is some evidence that imports curtail domestic production. Expension of production may require improvements of both production conditions and marketing. First, irrigation makes year-round production feasible. Further, the use of improved varieties and better practices is necessary to make irrigated farming profitable. For marketing, the essential challenge is to overcome that producers of perishables must wait at their farm for buyers to pick up their output. Infrastructure for marketing is nearly non-existent at both farm and market levels. In sum, import-substitution of vegetables offers higher-return cropping opportunities for Ghanaian producers under both rainfed and irrigated conditions. Strategies to develop these opportunities are: improve yield under different conditions to encourage vegetable production and initiate measures to overcome trader-organized restrictions on entry to major markets.