Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture appears to be proposing a policy aiming to reduce poultry imports and improve local production, according to Citi FM Online of Ghana.
Statistics available at the ministry indicate that only 42 percent of poultry meat consumed in Ghana is from domestic suppliers, with the remaining 58 percent are imported from the European Union and the United States.
Speaking to the news agency during a recent tour of Tema Harbour, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Dr. Hannah Bissiw, confirmed the government’s commitment to revamp the country’s agricultural sector and maintain job opportunities in the sector.
Also reporting on the event, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation said that changes instituted by the Tema Port Administration from the end of this month will end the falsification of documents used in the clearing of imported frozen cargo, particularly poultry and poultry products.
It is unclear whether these restrictions are related to recent outbreaks of avian influenza (AI).
Avian flu situation in Ghana
One month ago, Citi FM Online reported that Ghana had not recorded any new cases of AI in poultry since December 15, 2015. MoFA attributed this to the effective response and control interventions instituted before and during an outbreak last year.
At a stakeholders’ meeting in Accra at that time, Bissiw assured the public that there is no risk in eating locally produced poultry products, advising that they are well cooked before consumption.
The first AI outbreak occurred in the country in 2007, she said, while the latest incidents began in May of 2015.
In November, Parliament approved finds from its Contingency Fund to support the Ministry’s emergency plan to combat the outbreak of the disease through better detection and surveillance. More than GHC1.067 million (US$270,900), has been paid in compensation to 25 affected farmers at a rate of 90 percent of their losses of live birds. Under the control measures, almost 76,000 birds had been culled while a further 26,434 birds died of the disease. Infected feed, eggs and other poultry farm equipment were also destroyed.
Also in late January, Ghana Web reported the National Poultry Farmers’ Association expressed dissatisfaction with MoFA’s measures to combat AI. According to that report, there had been 36 outbreaks of AI in the country, 31 in the Greater Accra region.
Ghana poultry production
FAOstat puts Ghana’s poultry meat output just under 51,000 metric tons (mt) in 2013, the most recent year for which figures are published. The same source puts imports in 2011 at more than 155,000mt, representing a huge increase from less than 14,000 mt in 2000.
Ghana operates in a relatively free market environment, according to a recent GAIN report from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. Despite its relatively open market, some tariff and non-tariff barriers remain and pose challenges to the importation of a number of agricultural products, which include poultry. Importers must obtain import permits from the Government of Ghana before importation, and the issuance of such permits for poultry can be discretionary and restrictive because the quantity and frequency of imports are controlled.
In November of 2015, Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden of the USDA announced at a press event in Ghana USDA’s Food-for-Progress Program for Poultry to Ghana, valued at US$58 million over the next 5 years.