In recent times, Ghana seems to have woken up to a maize shortage that is fast causing diverse effects on food prices, the poultry industry and food security in the country.
In 2020, Ghana’s maize production was projected to reach 3.0 million metric tonnes. However several factors have resulted in the production dropping to around 1.8 million metric tonnes.
There are various reasons why this shortage is occurring and as much as it poses a challenge, it also offers an opportunity. An opportunity to implement practices that will help reduce losses.
In this blog post, we touch on a few reasons why this shortage is happening, its effects and what can possibly be done.
What is causing the maize shortage in Ghana?
Several factors account for the maize shortages that we are currently experiencing. Chief among them are the following:
Changes in Weather and Rainfall Patterns
Maize production in Ghana is largely rain-fed with most farmers depending almost entirely on the rains. When there is inadequate rainfall, it leads to drought which affects yield. This was the case in the major season of the southern and middle zones in 2020 where dry spells in March and April led to many farmers losing their crops.
Farmers were again hit by another dry spell in July and August when the minor season was just beginning and many farmers lost their crops at the seeding stage.
In the northern zone, which contributes 40% of the country’s maize production, a similar situation also unfolded. There were periods of dry spells between August and September followed by severe flooding from the spillage of the Bagre Dam, destroying farms in the process.
Another cause of the maize shortage in Ghana is the shortage of fertilizer. The Minister of Agriculture’s spokesperson, Mr. Bagbara Tanko in an interview with Citi Breakfast Show on 16th July 2021 admitted the shortage of fertilizers in the country. He blamed the challenge of getting adequate fertilizers for Ghanaian farmers on the COVID 19 pandemic.
He concluded his interview with assurances of getting the crisis resolved as soon as possible. Additionally, the shortage of fertilizers has caused a hike in the prices of available fertilizers making it a bit of a challenge for farmers to purchase.
Influx of foreign aggregators
Another problem that has worsened the maize crisis is the influx of foreign aggregators, mainly from Burkina Faso and Niger, who throng to the Northern parts of Ghana with their deep pockets and massive trucks and buy maize from farmers in the North. They are usually more willing to offer more competitive prices to farmers compared to local buyers.
While this practice has existed for a long time, it has no doubt made the situation worse given the lower yields that were realized, to begin with.
The effects of the maize shortage in Ghana
Increase in Food Prices
The maize shortage in Ghana has resulted in increases in food prices. For instance, kenkey sellers have increased the prices of their balls of kenkey, attributing their hike in price to the increase of maize prices.
As of the middle of July 2021, a 50kg back of maize currently sells at GHC 180 while a 100kg bag sells at GHC 375 in Techiman, a more than 100% increase compared to the prices around the same period in 2020.
Strain on Local Poultry Industry
Another significant effect worth noting is the shortage of poultry feed due to the shortage of maize. This is due to the fact that maize is one of the main ingredients for poultry feed. This has led to a rise in the cost of poultry feed which in turn has led to increased costs of production for poultry farmers.
For the past weeks, poultry farmers have been agitated over their inability to provide adequate feed for their birds due to an increase in prices, as caused by shortages.
For consumers, the shortage in grains for poultry feed production has led to an increase in the prices of eggs, chicken and other poultry products
What Can Be Done?
In an interview with Mr. Joseph Akowuah, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Agriculture and Biosystems engineering and an expert in Post-harvest management, he shared a number of solutions.
First is the need to introduce improved irrigation schemes to back up low rainfall patterns due to climate change in order to increase production. Secondly, there is the need to manage post-harvest losses with simple homegrown technologies.
One of these technologies is the ZeroFly Hermetic Storage Bag which is used to store grains for longer periods of time while preventing the invasion of grain destroying insects and microorganisms.
Another is moisture monitoring devices such as the GrainMate Grain Moisture Meter used to measure the moisture content in grains to ensure that they are dry enough for storage.
The video below shows how farmers are reducing losses with the GrainMate Moisture Meter and ZeroFly Hermetic bag
Other solutions he stated are the provision of drying systems that meet farmers’ needs and providing training to farmers to appreciate new technologies.
Last but not least is the provision of the necessary financial support to farmers to increase yield through government policies.
The issue of maize crises currently plaguing our country is unfortunately not the first of its kind. It is important that measures are taken to reduce or prevent its occurrence. At Sesi Technologies, we are doing our part to bring an end to food crises and insecurity through our affordable technologies for African Farmers.
Our products include our GrainMate Grain Moisture Meter which helps farmers, commodity traders and aggregators reduce losses in their grains before storage. We have other solutions for agribusinesses and farmers.
If you’re into maize production, aggregation or feed production and want to know how our solutions can help you reduce losses, increase productivity or earn more, you can WhatsApp us or leave your contact details and our team will call you to schedule a free 15-minute consultancy call with our team.