From Sebastian R. Freiku, Kumasi .
It looks evident that US$56 million invested in the Ghanaian poultry sector by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under its Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) has not yielded the needed impact within the poultry industry in Ghana.
In 2015, the USDA announced two new agreements under a Food for Progress Initiative to help enhance the value chain in Ghana’s poultry industry, and initiated the Ghana Poultry Project (GPP) and the Assisting Management in the Poultry and Layer Industry by Feed Improvement and Efficiency strategies (AMPLIFIES Ghana) project.
The five-year USDA project, with the implementing agencies ACDI/VOCA and Techno Serve, being represented locally by Ghana Poultry Project (GPP), and American Soya Bean Association (ASA-WISH), being represented locally by AMPLIFIES and ADRA.
The projects were intended to build the capacity of local farmers to grow soya beans, maize and others used for poultry feed, with the view to ensuring a reduced cost of feed production, and also transform and stimulate economic growth and contribute to general food security.
The AMPLIFIES Ghana project was to focus on three areas of addressing postharvest handling deficiencies and improving quality of feed, and demonstrating to farmers the benefits of quality along production and promote the consumption of eggs in Ghana.
The ultimate goal was to support farmers reduce the current production cost, which is about 60-65%, to a level that they can remain competitive by selling eggs and chicken to consumers at an affordable price.
The five year poultry project was also intended to increase competitiveness of domestic production and processing of poultry meat and eggs among targeted sector commercial performance, by building coordination between firms, promoting the adoption of quality standards, strengthening business planning and market penetration strategies, and reinforcing buyer-supplier linkages.
The objective, among others, included the enhancement of agriculture productivity in the poultry value chain through capacity building, improving input markets, and promoting strategic investments and private-public partnerships, increase the trade of poultry products by improving product quality, increasing production efficiency, and improving market linkages.
It was also to improve access to affordable financing, by promoting partnerships among financial institutions, buyers, and suppliers, and encouraging the development of contract/out-grower supply chains and input quality control management systems for poultry producers; implement a sub grant programme on a matching basis to leverage public and private investment, increase market access, support for poultry associations to organise forums where poultry producers can interact with a range of buyers and input and technical and management service providers; connect poultry businesses with end-market buyers to develop and promote value-added segmentation of poultry end-markets; support GNAPF to coordinate and monitor policy initiatives to support and expand the local procurement of poultry products by importers; initiate social marketing campaigns to heighten awareness of consumers to locally produced poultry products.
It was also to ensure the adoption of best management practices in areas such as animal husbandry, vaccinations, and other related areas through the delivery of training by poultry farms to out-grower businesses; assist poultry producer associations to provide demonstrations on cost-effective input management, veterinary, and animal-husbandry best practices for their members; support poultry processing firms to improve the cost efficiency and quality of poultry processing, including linking producers with integrated processing firms.
According to Ambassador Jackson, who announced the commitment of US$56 million into the projects in July 2016, the concept, a seeming collaboration with the Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers, was instituted to lend support to the Ghanaian government’s efforts to improve domestic poultry production, believing that, as the poultry industry grows, and as agriculture develops, so would the USA-Ghana relationship grow and expand.
The commitment of the USDA was occasioned by the fact that for nearly a decade, the Ghana poultry sector has contracted as a result of intense competition from imported poultry meat and the decreasing profitability of egg production.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, domestically produced broiler meat has fallen from nearly 60 percent in the year 2000 to 20 percent in 2011. At the same time, imports have increased from 13,900 metric tonnes (mt) to over 155,000mt.
The Netherlands Ambassador at a poultry fair said 135,000mt, representing about 112 million birds, was imported from the European Union (EU) in 2017, and was 76% increased over the 2016 EU imports. Poultry imports from the EU and USA have always been increasing from 118,000mt in 2015, 144,000mt in 2016, 158,000mt in 2017, and hoped to increase, based on the trend with a yearly monetary value, between $120 million to $ 160 million.
As a result of the imports, local broiler production has been greatly affected, and, therefore, poultry farmers have moved into egg production, even though Ghanaians are still struggling to accept the total consumption of eggs, because of the cholesterol component.
The challenge facing the farmers now is the high cost of ingredients, which is affecting cost of production, which hovers around 60-65% of total production currently. The USDA-sponsored poultry project, among other things, was, therefore, intended to increase targeted sector commercial performance, by building coordination between firms, promoting the adoption of quality standards, produce cost effective feed for maximum output, enhance growing of local chicken and its consumption, demystify the cholesterol myth associated with egg consumption, strengthen business planning and market-penetration strategies, and reinforce buyer-supplier linkages.
But, in spite of these initiatives, productivity in the poultry industry seems insignificant at the expense of the target group within the poultry value chain, who should have benefited to make a positive impact as the project draws near its completion in September this year.
Major stakeholders within the industry are complaining, saying besides capacity building workshops and seminars, which they think a lot of money was injected into accommodation and logistics, they have no financial support to make the desired impact in the industry, especially when the project had a defined grant component as part of the implementation.
Some stakeholders were of the view that farmers have had some level of capacities over the years, and what was relevant were improved systems and enhanced technology, which meant some capital injection, which was not evident under the project.
The projects had failed to produce the tonnes of soya beans and maize, because the targeted groups that AMPLIFIES were working with in the Northern part of Ghana were farmers within the farmer based organisations (FBOs), whose yields were as low as 0.3 -0.5mt/acre for maize, and 0.15 -0.20mt/acre for soya bean.
Some farmers interviewed felt they could have targeted the Farmer Based Enterprises (FBE’s)/Aggregators whose yields were better, because they were using improved seeds and high-end best farming practices, including mechanisation.
As a result of the misplaced targets, crop farmers under the project could not produce enough to feed into the poultry value chain for poultry farmers to buy ingredients at a competitive price so as to reduce cost of production. Therefore, the intended plan under the project to close the shortfall for the main ingredients ie., maize and soya bean, to feed into the poultry value chain could not materialise.
Mr. Boris Baidoo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Boris B’s Farms and World Ventures, when contacted by The Chronicle for his assessment of the projects, minced no words in saying: “Nobody knows where the funds go”, and stressed that he was waiting for an opportunity to tell USDA that nothing with regards to the projects is happening in Ghana.
According to him, he personally sunk money into the Broiler Revitalisation project, for which the GPP promised to refund, but was yet to be reimbursed, stressing that “nobody has received a pesewa.”
Mr. Baidoo said unless they (USDA) are using us (Ghanaian stakeholders), some of who are fronting for the association, nothing is actually happening in Ghana.
Alhaji Abdul Salam Akate of Akate Farms and Trading Company Limited told The Chronicle no company in the poultry industry or individual farmers have benefitted from any financial support, and that the periodic capacity building programmes have had very little impact. “We don’t know where the money goes into besides the training programmes,” he bemoaned.
The Ashanti Regional Chairman, Alhaji Issah Buckman, said in spite of the US$56 million for the GPP and AMPLIFIES programme, no funding went into the expansion of facilities, except seminars and workshops for the members.
He said in spite of the objective of the project, Ghana still imports 97% of its poultry needs because the market has been taken over by foreign producers.
Meanwhile, attempts by the paper to get USDA/FAS give an assessment of the projects failed, because since correspondence to the American Embassy, through firstname.lastname@example.org and gh.usembassy.gov, have not been responded to since February 28, 2019.