14th July 2021
The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Kinbu Road – Ministries, Accra
We write to you from the Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA), petitioning your good office to institute immediate actions to save Ghana’s dying poultry sector and ensure sustainable local production.
There is no doubt that the Ghanaian poultry industry is dying and currently on artificial life support. The quantity of chicken imported into the country has since the early 2000s risen steadily, contributing more than 50% of local demand annually. As of the year 2000, Ghana imported only about 33,300 tonnes of poultry meat annually. By 2013, that figure had risen to 168,000 tonnes, at a cost of over US$197million. Ghana currently spends an estimated US$380 million (more than 2 billion Ghana Cedis) importing poultry meat every year when about two decades ago, Ghana exported chicken to our neighbours. The result of this is that hundred thousand of jobs that the industry provided for Ghanaians in the past have shifted to foreign lands to the detriment of the good people of this country.
The main reason for the huge imports beyond increasing demand is the struggling domestic commercial poultry meat production sector. It’s no longer profitable producing poultry products in the country because it ends up being highly expensive, whilst imports cost far less.
This is because feed costs which constitute about 70% of overall production costs are unreasonably high in Ghana. The cost of other inputs including medication for the birds is unreasonably high. The high cost of energy is another big problem for local producers. And when they manage to sail all these challenges, poultry producers struggle to get market for their produce because imports are cheaper.
On the 25th of June, 2019, the government launched the “Rearing for Food and Jobs” campaign with an ambitious target to invest in the poultry component of the program as a major step to reduce the importation of chicken into the country. The government is doing its part, but more drastic actions are needed to save the sector.
We have paid attention to the challenges in the poultry sector over the years and have come up with a proposal to help turn the tides. We need increased government investments in the sector to produce better-quality day-old chicks and other inputs. We need subsidies on feed, and better processing and marketing facilities. We also need stability in electricity supply to production centres at lower costs.
But more importantly, we would propose that government acts quickly and immediately restrict the importation of poultry into the country. A cap should be placed on the importation of frozen chicken into the country. All wholesale importers should be given a quota to ensure they purchase at least 60% of the poultry they use locally and only import 40%. This directive should apply to poultry importers and food companies like KFC, Papaye and other major users of poultry in the country. Government should limit the importation of chicken to selected entry points in the country so that such quota can be vigorously monitored and enforced. Government should additionally ban the importation of chicken which have been frozen for more than one year at their production points before being shipped to Ghana because Ghanaians don’t deserve to be consuming such products which are unhealthy.
These are strategies that several other countries have used over the years to protect their fragile local economies and Ghana must learn from that and do this to support the local poultry industry.
We would urge importers of frozen chicken to have an interest in supporting the growth of the local industry by investing in it. Ghana can improve local production of poultry if importation is limited. The local industry has shown it can match up to the demand. They only need strategic support and government backing and they will deliver beyexpectationsectation. Let’s support them.
Also, there should be a national campaign similar to the Ghana rice campaign that was rolled out recently to encourage the consumption of local poultry products. There should also be increased support for value addition to the poultry sector so a lot of it is converted to nuggets, sausages, among others, for the benefit of the local market.
Looking forward to working with you to improve our local poultry sector so it can create millions of jobs for the populace all over the country.
Richmond Frimpong (0268909020)
Joseph Opoku Gakpo (0247714498)
Deputy General Secretary,