A verage economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be high and - according to recent World Bank statistics - is predicted to rise even more from 4.7 % in 2013 to 5.2 % in 2014. Ghana is no exception to this trend. Despite problems with slumping growth in the mining and oil industries, high inflation and a weak currency, the economy is nevertheless expected to grow 4.5 % in 2014.
As a result of the constant economic growth, Ghana has reached the status of a middle-income country. With the emergence of a large middle class an increasing number of consumers is demanding a higher quantity and quality of fresh produce. As a consequence, the domestic vegetable-market alone is growing at more than 10 % per year. For local consumption, the most important vegetables are tomatoes, peppers (both sweet and hot) and onions. Meanwhile, Ghana’s vegetable sector also exhibits a high potential for exports. The potential value for the export of vegetables is estimated at USD 50 million. However, current export of vegetables stands at only USD 8 million as producers fail to comply with international food safety regulations. While traditionally, fruits like pineapples, bananas and mangoes were the main horticultural export crop, chillies and Asian vegetables are gaining in popularity. Another reason why Ghana does not live up to its potential, is that vegetable production chains still show ample room for improvement. At present, they are characterised by a low availability and knowledge of agro-inputs, limited agronomic skills and practices, poor food safety in both the domestic and export market, poor post-harvest management, and weak linkages between producers and buyers.
These deficiencies lower output and lead to a situation in which demand is not sufficiently met by supply. As such, Ghana remains a major net importer of agricultural food products, with imports of approximately USD 1 billion. Imports for onions alone amount to USD 120 million in just the Accra and Kumasi market, illustrating the large discrepancy between domestic vegetable production and actual demand.
This discrepancy however, opens up business opportunities for Dutch companies active in vegetable production, processing, plant reproduction, cold-chain technology, agro-inputs and agro-consultancy. Likewise, there are abundant opportunities for Dutch wholesalers looking to import food products from Ghana.
GhanaVeg Programme The Centre for Development Innovation of Wageningen UR cooperates with NABC and International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) in order to increase the competitiveness of Ghana’s vegetable sector through the GhanaVeg Programme. Initiated by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the programme intends to improve the business climate and to further professionalise the value chain for vegetable production and consumption in Africa. An important part of the programme is to link local vegetable producers and other value chain operators to the Dutch private sector.
Furthermore, GhanaVeg organises regular Business Platforms with presentations on business opportunities and horticultural innovations. In addition, GhanaVeg can provide co-financing to innovative business ideas and R&D proposals. In 2014, GhanaVeg funding has been awarded to multiple parties, including vegetable-wholesaler Eden Tree which will be assisting and coordinating a cluster of 120 farmers in order to achieve certified produce for domestic market outlets. Calls for proposals regularly open and include calls for the seed industry and protected horticulture, as well as general proposals aimed at vegetable chain integration.