Friday, 15 July 2011

Processing Power


Walking through any Ghanaian market, you pretty much see the same thing. Stalls with women selling the same stuff. Farmers have two paths for their crops: either to their stomachs or straight to the market. And since different regions specialize in growing only a small number of crops, you get extreme market saturation. Take Bongo, where I did my village stay. The two big crops are millet and groundnuts. What do you think you see the most of in the market?

Yesterday I talked with my friend who in a post-harvest processing engineer about how processing “adds value”. When you do something to your crop, your profit theoretically is greater. You charge for the work and resources it takes to change the product. What’s more expensive? Fresh tomatoes, or tomato paste? The tomato paste right?

Everywhere you look, Ghana is only selling raw materials. Whether it is on the international level of exporting gold, or the small-scale sale of millet, there are so few industries in Ghana I can probably count them on my fingers. 

Why? Why isn’t there more processing? Well, my friend gave some good insight on that too. It turns out the first president, Kwame Nkrumah, wanted to industrialize Ghana. Capitalize on her resources, and process to the max. So it was all going fine from there until the next head-of-state took over and didn’t continue his work. Industries dwindled because of government policy. And to this day, the policy is still not processing.
I’m not saying processing its resources would be a quick and easy solution for Ghana’s economy, but I think it’s something important to consider. Why did Nkrumah have so much faith in it in the beginning? Why is processing and industrialization not encouraged?


This one has to do with agriculture in Canada. I challenge you to find out how Canadian farmers sell their crops. Is there a market they all go to and sell to retailers? Is there an agency that buys from farmers and sells to grocery stores? First person to find out and get back to me gets a sweet prize and is forever thought of as super cool by anyone who loads this page! My friend asked me about this and I had absolutely no clue. Please, cure my curiosity and get Googling!

Later days,

1 comment:

  1. so i definitely want some cool ghanaian swag
    i found out, as a general example - most of the market is controlled by large corporations (burnbrae farms eggs/maple leaf meats, etc) and these large corporations either a) buy from farmers or b) own farms and employ farmers. they then process/clean the goods and sell them to supermarkets
    the only other way is via farmers markets, where farmers bring their own stuff (but sometimes also buy crops from their friends to resell)