This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/26/2017
Agriculture in Ghana is predominantly on a smallholder basis. About 90% of farm holdings are less than 2 hectares in size. Although there are some large farms and plantations, these are usually for rubber, oil palm, coconut, and in recent times; rice, maize and pineapples. Main system of farming is traditional; the hoe and cutlass are the main farming tools. There is little mechanized farming, but bullock farming is practiced in some places, especially in the North. Agricultural production varies with the amount and distribution of rainfall but soil factors are also important. Most food crop farms are intercropped, with mono-cropping mostly being associated with larger-scale commercial farms.

Agriculture’s contribution to total employment is estimated to be 52 per cent (GLSS6, 2013). The Ghanaian market is relatively open even with the recent implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET). The CET replaced Ghana’s previous tariff schedule; with complete free trade for ECOWAS countries and new CET rates for the rest of the world. Although Ghana’s previous tariff rates were already structured similarly to those of the CET, full adoption of the CET required a reduction of certain existing tariffs and an increase of others, as well as the introduction of a new 35 percent tariff rate for products considered particularly sensitive, such as printed fabrics, poultry, and other meats.

Ghana’s agricultural production meets only half of domestic cereal and meat needs and 60 per cent of domestic fish consumption, according to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA). Food production is dominated by subsistence farming, and without transport and storage infrastructure, small farmers have hardly any access to local markets. There is significant untapped potential as yields for cereals and starchy staples are far below the maximum attainable. The growing segment of middle-income households could provide a significant consumer base for locally processed foods. But as local food processing remains too small to meet local demand, high-value food imports have been increasing. Ghana currently produces less than 30 per cent of the raw materials needed by its agro-based industries. The government has introduced incentives (e.g. tax holidays) to promote food processing but the response has been low as major bottlenecks such as lack of space infrastructure, finance, erratic power supply, etc. remain.

The Ghanaian market still presents a good avenue for trade to U.S. exporters of agricultural and related products, especially those products classified as High Value Products (HVP). HVP comprises consumer oriented products, forest products and fish products. Despite a decline in U.S. exports of agricultural and related products to Ghana since an all-time peak export level recorded in 2012, growth of the population, rapid urbanization, growth in the tourism sector and demand from neighboring countries coupled with insufficient domestic production and processing means import demand for HVPs in Ghana will remain high. This represents business opportunity for U.S. exporters of HVP.

Market requirements by Ghanaian importers include:
  • Requiring suppliers of flexible shipping volumes, and services of freight consolidators in the United States to handle their ordering and shipment to minimize cost of shipping
  • Requiring products that can easily be repackaged in Ghana with less marginal costs
  • Requiring relatively small-sized products prepared and packaged for one-time use, and products processed and packaged to ensure less need for refrigeration
  • Requiring well displayed readable dates of manufacturing and expiration to be expressed as dd-mm-yyyy or month-dd-yyyy, with the particular month presented in words if the American style is followed
  • Expiry dates of imported products should not be less than six (6) months at the time of being cleared from the port
  • Purchasing mixed containers of HVPs and brands is preferred
  • Seeking exclusive distribution/agency agreements from exporters
Quick Facts on Agricultural Imports for 2012-2016 (in millions of dollars)
Source of Imports20122013201420152016
U.S. 178.9 (7.97%)183.3 (8.10%)129.9 (7.52%)76.2 (4.93%)76.8 (5.07%)
Source: Global Trade Atlas

Market Summary
Sales of retail food: Ghana’s retail market is relatively advanced compared to others in Africa. Retail sector analysts forecast retail spending to increase from $8 billion in 2015 to $11 billion by 2019, thanks largely to the growing middle class.
U.S. exports of agricultural and related products to Ghana amounted to $84.4 million in 2016, according to trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This consists of:
  • Bulk products; mainly wheat, rice and corn (9.1 percent)
  • Intermediate products; mainly soybean meal (9.5 percent)
  • Consumer Oriented products; mainly poultry meat & products (e.g. eggs), prepared food, processed vegetables, tree nuts, condiments & sauces, dairy products, pet food and fish products (68 percent)
  • Agricultural Related products; mainly forest products and fish products (13.3 percent)
U.S. Agricultural Exports to Ghana (in millions of dollars)
Consumer Oriented75.798.084.251.557.4
Ag. Rel. Products37.76.221.414.011.2
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Trade Data

Market share of retail food subsectors: The retail food sector in Ghana consists of three main subsectors:
Supermarkets (accounting for approximately 4 percent of total retail sales)
Convenience stores and small grocery stores (36 percent)
Traditional open air markets (60 percent)

Sales of imported HVPs: In terms of retail sales of imported high-value food products, supermarkets are estimated to account for about 26 percent, convenience stores 54 percent, and traditional markets 20 percent, according to industry sources.

Import trend of U.S. supplied High-Value Products (HVP)

The trend of importations of U.S. supplied High-Value Food Products by Ghana for the period 2010-2016 is illustrated by the chart below. The chart shows that there was slight increase in imports of HVPs from the United States by Ghana in 2016 compared to 2015.
Import Trend for U.S. supplied HPVs to Ghana (2010-2016) in million of U.S. $
 Year of shipment
Value of import (millions of dollars)2010201120122013201420152016

Source: BICO Report on U.S. Exports of Agricultural & Related Products to Ghana CY 2010-2016


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Ghana Agribusiness Trade Development and Promotion