Agricultural productivity in Ghana grew from $1,863 in 2012 to $3,208 in 2021, the African Development Bank has revealed.

These improvements, the Bank said have increased food security, as shown by the prevalence of stunting among children under the age of five, falling from 22.8% in 2012 to 17.5% in 2021.

Although Ghana outperformed other African Development Fund countries on nutrition, AfDB said in its country brief on Ghana that undernourishment remains a concern.

“The number of hungry people is lower as a proportion of the population and has decreased in real terms, affecting 1.8 million in 2021 against 1.9 million in 2012, but the numbers still indicate persistent shortfalls in food supply and nutrition as demand has grown and diets diversified faster than productivity increased and market linkages were formed.”

The report further said Ghana is in the process of developing more advanced food systems, having more than tripled its exports of processed commodities from $302 million in 2012 to $1.1 billion in 2021. This results principally from processing more cocoa, which has allowed the country to capture more value in the sector.

For other crops, however, particularly crops consumed domestically, the transformation of value chains, the report, said continues, as epitomised by the persistent trade deficit in aquaculture products (48% of fish consumed in 2018 was imported).

Overall, the report stated that the balance of food trade has worsened over the period, driven by higher food imports, including imports from other African countries, which have caused the net trade balance in agriculture to decrease from $0.9 billion in 2012 to -$0.3 billion in 2021.

Adding value to agriculture

Aware of these challenges, the report said the government has pursued various initiatives to transform agriculture, including the flagship Planting for Food and Jobs programme and the One District One

Factory initiative.

Within the framework of its Investing for Food and Jobs agenda since 2018, the government has promoted rural industrialisation and employment opportunities along commodities’ value chains, enticing private investments into processing facilities in various regions of the country.

Recognising that this strategy is in line with the African Development Bank’s Feed Africa High 5, the Bank recently implemented such major projects as the Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project, the Savannah Investment Programme, and the Technologies for Accelerated Agricultural Transformation in the Savannahs (TAAT-S Ghana) project (Box 3), which seek to increase farmers’ food and nutrition security and incomes by boosting agricultural productivity and diversifying agribusiness along grain and livestock value chains.

Way forward

In the coming years, AfDB said it will continue to support modernising agriculture in Ghana, promoting farming technology that boosts productivity and encouraging the shift from the predominant subsistence farming model to an agribusiness model oriented around value chains.

This is the objective of two ongoing programmes—the Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project and the Savannah Investment Programme—that aim to reduce food imports and increase nutrition security in several districts of Northern Ghana.

To support the Government of Ghana’s industrialisation drive, the Bank will also help establish a special agriculture processing zone or an agro-industrial park in the Upper East Region. This zone will consolidate and optimise the gains in agricultural production in the Savannah area with various value-addition activities. This will create jobs and wealth within the zone, including Burkina Faso.

Agriculture is a fundamental sector in Ghana’s economy.

It employs some 3.3 million Ghanaians—40% of the employed population—and generates considerable export revenues, particularly from cocoa.