Research has revealed that although about 80 percent of the farmer population in Ghana is made up of smallholder farmers, there is a poor linkage in the agriculture value chain.

This development is creating a major problem in the food distribution chain in Ghana.

Presenting research findings on the Ghana Food Systems at the Ghana Food Systems Conference in Accra, one of the researchers, Dr. Joseph Teye indicated, "there is a malfunction of the food distribution subsystem and this affects production."

The research on the small-holder farmer in Ghana’s Food Systems was conducted by Dr Joseph, Dr Joseph Yaro and Charles Nyaaba.

The food system in Ghana comprises of activities from food production, distribution, consumption and back to farmers planning for production.

The bulk of food in Ghana is produced by smallholder farmers located across the different ecological zones that offer the food variety the country enjoys.

However, "there are few large farms and increasingly many medium-size holdings due to rising incentives from urban markets," Dr Teye added.

On Ghana’s agricultural policies, the research found that though successive governments have implemented many policies in the sector, "most of these policies have targeted government inputs supply and infrastructure development", while "policies which are usually directed by donors unintentionally tend to favour large-scale farmers producing for export or small-scale farmers producing cash crops."

It was found that recent agricultural policies have recognised the need to support small-holder farmers producing food crops, but there is a stronger focus on the production segment of the food system, with little emphasis on enhancing small-holder farmers’ access to the market.

The research, therefore, warns, "the non-prioritization of marketing and the over-emphasis on production shows that the government is preoccupied with an older productivist discourse" which must be checked.

It was also revealed that the recent Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme is equally associated with inappropriate inputs and poor access to markets which has continually been the trend in the sector.

"The recent emphasis on large-scale farming, the call for increasing use of biotechnology, naïve liberalisation, and the heavy application of external chemical inputs, may be misguided dimensions of Ghana’s agricultural policies that require a critical informed debate," the research suggested.

The conference was organised in partnership with The Multimedia Group (Joy News) with funding from OXFAM and OSIWA.