Agriculture in Ghana has steadily improved in recent years, resulting in a string of professionals flocking to Ghana’s backbone sector.
The sector dominates the country’s economy; employing over 60% of the labour force in Ghana (formal and informal). The country’s successful cocoa story also sees the sector boasting the position of the second largest producer of cocoa in the world.
As a result of steady growth over the past decade, the agriculture sector in Ghana has presented opportunities for improvements and progression in the industry. These opportunities have influenced the ideas of professionals and encouraged the Ghanaian youth to invest time, efforts, skills, knowledge and funding to continually improve the sector.
So what exactly attracts professionals, investors and independent farmers to the sector?
Farming for food security and profits
Over the past decade, the idea of transitioning from subsistence farming to commercialising agriculture has been becoming a reality for the sector and has therefore opened doors for professionals including farmers to profit from the food they produce by selling to domestic and global markets; having a positive impact on the country’s economy.
One issue restraining smallholding farmers was the little to no access to farming machinery. Smallholding farmers in Ghana mainly use the cutlass and hoe method of farming to plant and harvest crops and, as humans, one can only achieve so much. Farming machinery, on the other hand, provides a quicker and more efficient way to plant and harvest crops to meet demands amongst wholesalers or retailers, and national demands for exports. Ghana already exports to Switzerland, India, South Africa, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Malaysia, and other countries.
To promote commercialisation within the agriculture sector, the Ghana government has entered the machinery market by providing tractors under a subsidised program (a private-public partnership) so that smallholding farmers may be able to afford the essential machinery. In 2007, it approved USD 3.4 million of public funds for the purchase of tractors, most of which were imported from India. Companies in the private sector have also jumped on the bandwagon to help in the process of commercialising agriculture in the country. For example, TroTro Tractor, a limited company, connects farmers with tractor services after prepayment and scheduling.
It’s all about the access
To meet demands and market standards, smallholder farmers have to have the resources to ensure crops are healthy, weather conditions are suitable, and crop cultivation is up to scratch. Access to market information relating to the agriculture sector is vital to the success of crop cultivation, and the rise of agro-entrepreneurship in Ghana has allowed farmers to gain access to the necessary information and resources.
Technology is disrupting a number of sectors in Ghana, creating countless ideas and opportunities to improve ways of doing business in the region. Agriculture is one of those sectors benefitting, with one such agro-entrepreneurship initiative being Farmerline.
Farmerline is an agribusiness tech start-up that is helping smallholder farmers in Ghana by providing access to market information and resources to increase productivity on their farms, like the weather, and latest market figures; in turn bridging the gap between farmers and larger organisations. The company was established in 2012 and has connected over 200,000 farmers in 10 countries including Ghana through mobile technology.
Additionally, access to finance and funding has always been a hindrance to a 100% take off and 100% success of Ghana’s agriculture sector. Smallholder farmers usually don’t have access to banking loans for example, to invest in their farming businesses. However, the recent openness of banks like the African Development Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and UniBank, to provide loans suitable for agro-entrepreneurship among SMEs, has convinced individuals to commit to careers in agribusiness.
The increasing popularity of urban agriculture also provides an opportunity for growth and development in the sector. As city populations in Ghana increase, more city farmers are emerging in pockets of arable land.
Urban Agriculture is a new concept, that the Ghanaian government believes can be a contributing factor in helping the economy to meet international standards.
The improvements and progression within the sector as a whole continues to promise a good future and will continue to attract more professionals as agriculture in Ghana aims to hold its dominance on the economy.