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Investing in Ghana's Agricultural & Agro-Processing Industry

Sector Overview

Agriculture in Ghana is recognized as the mainstay of the economy with a greater impact on poverty reduction than other sectors. It is also critical for rural development and associated cultural values, social stabilization, environmental sustainability and buffer during economic shocks and the sector currently employs about 48% of the total workforce.

The country is classified into three main agriculture zones. The forest vegetation zone consists of parts of Western, Eastern, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions. The northern savannah vegetation zone includes the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Region while the coastal savannah includes mainly the Central, Greater Accra and parts of Volta Region.

The northern savannah zone is the largest agriculture zone. Most of the nation’s supply of rice, millet, sorghum, yam, tomatoes, cattle, sheep, goat and cotton are grown in the region. In recent times, mangoes, cotton and ostrich commercial farms are also gaining footholds in the northern zone.

The coastal savannah is notable for rice, maize, cassava, vegetables, sugar cane, mangoes and coconut cultivation as well as livestock rearing. Sweet potato and soybean crops are also viable in this agro–ecological zone, under irrigation. The lower part of this zone is drained by the River Volta and other streams and lagoons. These water resources present opportunities for fish farming (aquaculture).

In the forest zones where rainfall is very heavy, cocoa, coffee, oil palm, cashew, rubber, plantain, banana and citrus crops are mostly cultivated in these areas.

The major strengths of the agricultural sector include a diversity of commodities, well-endowed drainage basin, a well-established agricultural research system and a relative proximity to the European market.

The agriculture sector consists of four (4) main subsectors:

  • Crops: Cash crops, horticultural crops and tree crops.
  • Livestock: Ruminants , non-ruminants and poultry
  • Fisheries: Marine, inland and aquaculture
  • Forestry

Crop Production

Food production in Ghana for the past few years has shown an upward trend, thus increasing the country’s potential towards complete food self-sufficiency. 

Generally, the production levels of major crops increased with the exception of maize which reduced slightly. Maize production declined marginally by 0.15%. Whiles a number of factors may account for this decline, the high cost of agricultural inputs and poor weather conditions in some parts of the country were main suspected causes.

The production of roots and tuber crops such as cassava and cocoyam experienced slight increases (2.5% and 2.4% respectively) in 2014, and resulted in about 408 metric tonnes and 31 metric tonnes respectively. This increased production can be partly due to interventions of the Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Project (RTIMP) and the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) through improved technology generation, dissemination and adoption.

Additionally, there is availability of market for root and tuber crops. For example, cassava is being used as a raw material in the brewery industry. In 2014, Guinness Ghana Limited (GGL) and Accra Brewery Limited (ABL) purchased a total of 801,946.32 metric tonnes of raw cassava at a value of GH¢1,593,680 from farmers in some selected districts.

Livestock Production

Demand for livestock products including poultry is increasing in the country. Factors accounting for this include population growth, increased urbanization, rising incomes and improved attitude toward the intake of protein. Livestock production is thus increasing in response to this growing demand. Meat and meat products available for consumption increased by 6.59% between 2012 and 2013.
However, in 2014 an average increase of 6.0% was recorded. Although this shows an appreciable increase in domestic meat production, the rate of increase is decreasing marginally (6.59% in 2013 and 6.0% in 2014). This increase has ultimately led to a reduction in meat imports. In 2013 import of meat and meat products reduced by 9.68% whereas in 2014 an impressive reduction of 39.7% was achieved over the previous year. The decrease in meat imported is reflected in the drastic reduction in meat available for consumption by up to 39.6%.

 Fish Production

The fisheries sub-sector also contributes to the achievement of the country’s food security goals by providing high quality and affordable fish protein in the daily diet of many households. The sub-sector is estimated to contribute about 60% of the protein requirements of Ghanaians. Total fish produced in 2014 from all sources including captured (marine and inland) and cultured (aquaculture) was 413,077 metric tonnes as against total import of 145,910 metric tonnes in 2013.

 Local production contributed about 74% of the total fish needs of the country. Further analysis shows that, out of the total production in 2014, marine fisheries accounted for about 70%, inland fisheries 21% and aquaculture 9%.

  • Inland Fish Production

Inland fish production involves inland capture, cultured fisheries and aquaculture based fisheries. The main sources include; the Volta Lake, lagoons, reservoirs, irrigation dams and dug outs as well as other inland water bodies. The Volta Lake with a surface area of 8,480km2 and 5,200 km2 shoreline forms the backbone of the total inland captured fish production, as it contributes about 90% of the total production from the sub-sector.

  • Production of Cultured Fish

Cultured fish production is basically aquaculture production. This is usually obtained from cages, ponds, dams, dugouts and reservoirs. Aquaculture production has been on the rise since 2008. This was largely as a result of government’s strategy of investing in the aquaculture production. In line with the government’s intervention, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development is developing a programme dubbed nucleus – out-grower and input support scheme to promote aquaculture. The implementation of the scheme will augment national fish production through aquaculture. Under the scheme, selected potential and existing fish farmers will be trained and provided with inputs.


Ghana’s forests make up part of the Guineo-Congolean phytoecological region. Forests broadly fall into two vegetation zones, each with different vegetation and forest types. The High Forest Zone covering 34% and the Savannah Zone covering 66% of the land area.

About 135,000ha of plantations have been established under the National Forest Plantations Development Program. A forest plantation strategy is under preparation according to which there is about 1 million ha of land available for the establishment of forest plantations.

The timber industry is the fourth largest foreign exchange earner after minerals, cocoa and oil exports. Primary wood and processed products account for 89% and 11% of timber exports, respectively. In addition to timber, forests provide the main source of domestic energy in the form of fuel wood and charcoal.

Export of Non-Traditional Agricultural Commodities 

Export of non-traditional agricultural products contributed 13.22 % of the total earnings from the export of all non-traditional commodities in 2013 and 13.57% in 2014, with a marginal increase of 0.35 percentage points. Generally, there was a reduction in the quantities of most non-traditional agricultural commodities exported in 2014 over 2013. There was a corresponding decrease in the value of commodities exported where quantity decreased except for oil seeds and nuts. In this case, while quantity exported reduced by 23.61%, value increased by 36.9% as illustrated in table below.





Percentage Change

Quantity (Mt)

Value (GHS)

Quantity (Mt)

Value (GHS)

% Change


% Change Value

Oil Seeds and nuts







Horticulture products














Fish and sea foods














Source: Ghana Export Promotion Authority (Exchange Rate: $1:GH2.018 in 2013 and $1: GH¢3.25 in 2014)