I have been thinking so much of late whilst I ask questions that the answers seems so obvious. Why do we import almost $200mil poultry product annually? Why do we import goats, cows, plantains and fruits from our neighbours in large quantities? How come we import so much fertilizer?, why is our agricultural sector going downwards? Why do we virtually import everything? Can we ever get a visionary leader that can transform our agriculture in order to employ so many youths. I think aloud and sometimes I can’t even sleep at night. What is wrong with us as a people? Sometimes, I just cannot think far.
OUR CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD
The problems in agriculture is well documented in textbooks that even J.H.S students know them. I am not going to iterate them here, one key problem is the availability of Fertilizers for farmers. Can someone explain to me why after 60 years of independence, Ghana cannot produce 10% of its fertilizer requirement as a Nation? Fertilizer is so expensive on the local market that the average farmer cannot afford them. With Ghana’s active petrochemical industry, production of fertilizer should be relatively easy now. I will urge the Government to ensure a fertilizer production factory is made a priority within the very first year of office.
One Village, One Dam
Even though this was a political statement, it shows clearly that the incoming Government intend to take agriculture seriously. Even if it is a dugout that can retain some water in the dry season, it will still work magic. However, I think the Government can do more than just a dam or dugout. Please if possible, they should provide 20 tractors each for each constituencies in the country and also subsidize fertilizer and make it readily available before the next planting season. Ploughing is another cost that makes farming very expensive. Any farmer who wish to plough should just buy diesel and pay the driver some token. This simple act can be the very foundation on which the livestock industry can rest on.
Grains, Legumes and Livestock Board
This is where things get very interesting. If you can assure the farmer that you provided a dam for that if your produce is ready, I the government will buy it at this price. Then you give them a reason to farm.
The Grains, Legumes and Livestock Board will work just as Cocobod works. Encourage farmers to grow maize and Soyabeans which would be purchased by the board. They should train Agriculture Extension officers to help farmers improve their yield per hectare. They should buy as much as their warehouse can hold. Any serious country who wants his livestock sector to thrive should have maize and soyabeans in abundance. How long shall will remain a dumping ground for FOSS chicken and pig heads.
In 2016 alone, Ghana Imported 171,000MT of poultry products valued at $198m. Half of this money can transform this sector and employ thousands of youths. In 2015, our food importation amounted to $2.1 billion, this is a very collossal amount of money that can transform our agricultural sector. If we can reduce this amount by 50% and spend it on developing our Livestock industry, i believe it will reduce unemployment drastically.
Use of Grains and Legumes
With millions of tonnes of grains in the Boards warehouse scattered all over the country, At least 5 factories can be established from the stored grains
Soya Bean Oil Extraction
Since poultry and pig farmers use soya beans cake in their feed formulation, it is important for the oil to be extracted from the beans before it is used. A factory that can extract the oil has to be established. The cake produced from this factory shall be fed to another company that will specialize in poultry and pig feed formulation.
Feed Formulation Company
Stored grains and Soya bean Cake with other ingredients produced locally would be used by the company to produce feed for the pig and poultry industry. The Grains, Legumes and Livestock Board should then liaise with the Poultry Farmers Association of Ghana and the Pig Farmers association of Ghana to supply feed to selected farmers whose structure meets some standard. They should agree on pricing on final product and also help the farmers observe best practices on their various farms. Broilers and Pigs should be reared on a very large scale to feed the Chicken and Pigs Processing Plant respectively.
Chicken Processing Factory
All broilers reared would be fed to the chicken processing factory which would then process the chicken and package them into the various parts for the local market and for export. To compete on the global market, our cost of production ought to come down drastically. The poultry industry is huge so it is imperative we get things right by lowering the cost of the various inputs.
Pork Processing Factory
The Pork industry is estimated at $26.5 billion. Unfortunately, Africa supplies only 0.1% of total exports.
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of pork during 2015:
- United States: US$4 billion (15.9% of total pork exports)
- Germany: $4 billion (15.7%)
- Spain: $3 billion (11.9%)
- Denmark: $2.5 billion (10%)
- Canada: $2.2 billion (8.8%)
- Netherlands: $1.8 billion (7%)
- Belgium: $1.3 billion (5.2%)
- Brazil: $1.2 billion (4.6%)
- France: $827 million (3.3%)
- Poland: $773.1 million (3.1%)
- Ireland: $415.7 million (1.6%)
- Mexico: $394.6 million (1.6%)
- Chile: $391.4 million (1.5%)
- Austria: $378.6 million (1.5%)
- Hungary: $342.2 million (1.4%)
Local consumption of pork is growing but I believe if we do things right, we can grow this industry to international standard.
An ultra modern pork processing company should be established to process pork for local consumption and for export.
Organic Fertilizer Processing Company
With the tonnes of pig and poultry waste produced, a company that can process the waste into organic fertilizer will be of tremendous help to the agricultural sector.
Agriculture and the NPP’s Manifesto
I had to go online to download and read through their manifesto to know their intentions for the livestock industry but suprisingly, their interest is on goats, cows, sheep and poultry. There is no mention of pig farming in their manifesto.
Summary of what the NPP government intends to do;
- The NPP will aggressively aggressively promote cattle ranching and will provide incentives to the private sector to develop cattle ranches
- the NPP will facilitate the establishment of Livestock Development Centre to promote small ruminants like sheep and goats
- The NPP will support the private sector to expand localproduction of poultry feed and vertirinary products
- Support efficient production of both maize and Soya
- Encouraging local poultry meat processing
- Instituting anti dumping measures on Poultry
On Marketing, the NPP will;
- facilitate the support and estblishment of stakeholder-controlled marketing companies for grains and selected products including a cashew Marketing Authority
- Revive the Grains Development Board
The above is an excerpt of what the incoming government plans to do has captured in their manifesto. thousand and one questions need to be asked on how they intend to do it and the linkages between the soya and maize production, poultry meat processing and the grains development board.
I will wait till they take power and present their budget, but i am sure we have brighter days ahead.
Ghana is a blessed country and I believe the problems we are encountering as a nation are not so huge that we as a people with lots of intellectuals cannot solve them. We must grow what we eat and eat what we grow as a nation. Importation should be cut down drastically to create employment for our people and market for our produce.
We are churning out about 50,000 graduates every year with little or no opportunities. It’s a security risk and if the leaders of our great nation do not take the bull by the horn and tackle our agricultural challenges, then we should be prepared for the consequence in a few years to come.
The Executives of the Pig farmers Association of Ghana and the Poultry Farmers Association of Ghana is willing and ready to avail themselves for the successful implementation of the above mentioned projects.
The solution is an integrated agricultural setup. The leaders of this noble country should think very far to solve it or posterity will never forgive them.
Let me use this opportunities to wish all my followers a merry xmas and a very prosperous agricultural 2017.