June 20, 2024
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Reassess implications of imports on Ghana’s food security – ACET to policy makers

An economist and researcher at the African Center for Economic Transformation, Dr. Frank Adu, has raised concerns about Ghana’s high reliance on food imports.

According to the 2023 Trade Report by the Ghana Statistical Service, Ghana had a trade surplus of GH₵20.7 billion with other African countries, an increase from GH₵13.2 billion in 2022.

Despite this surplus, Dr. Adu’s concerns highlight the need for Ghana to balance its trade relationships and develop its domestic food production capabilities.

Shea nuts represented 82.3 percent of the total imports from Burkina Faso, with an import value of GH₵1.9 billion. Compared to 2022, the only change in the top five import origins within Africa is Burkina Faso replacing Nigeria in 2023. Notably, Burkina Faso predominantly supplies vegetable products, constituting 89.8% of imports.

In an interview with Bernard Avle on ChannelOne TV, Dr. Frank Adu highlighted the issue of heavy reliance on food imports, citing a video showing truckloads of onions being transported to Kumasi in the Ashanti and Bono Regions.

He expressed concern over the large-scale importation of onions and other food items from neighbouring countries, urging policymakers to reassess the implications of these imports on Ghana’s food security.

“I think for shea and vegetables, probably, shea, Burkina Faso is actually trying to transit their goods at our ports. But we should be more worried about chicken and vegetables. A few days ago, I think I saw on social media how truckloads of onions are trickling into our various markets in Kumasi, the Ashanti Region and some parts of the Bono Region.

“The Bono Regions are noted for producing some of these vegetables, so when this happens, we should be worried about the food security implications of such imports. I think it’s something for policymakers to look at. Especially with vegetable production. But for shea, I’m quite sure they are transiting their goods through our ports,” he pointed out.

Ten products accounted for over a third (38.3%) of all imports. The highest import value was diesel-automotive gas oil, amounting to GH₵27.1 billion, followed by light oils, motor spirit, and super at GH₵22.3 billion.

These are the only two commodities that contributed over 10.0 percent each of all imports. Ghana imported from 214 countries and exported to 159 in 2023, compared to 208 and 160 respectively in 2022.

Over the period 2022 and 2023, the value of food products exported increased by GH₵3.4 billion. Similarly, food product imports witnessed a rise of GH₵3.6 billion within the same timeframe.

However, the share of food products in all trade has declined from 2022 to 2023, with 2.9 percentage points decline for exports and 0.7 percentage points for imports.

Cocoa products (62.4%) recorded the highest for exports followed by edible fruits and nuts (12.7%). Grains, cereals, meat, animal or vegetable fats and oil, and fish products collectively constitute half (50.4%) of all food product imports into Ghana.

In contrast to the trade deficit of GH₵4.8 billion experienced in 2022, Ghana recorded a surplus of GH₵5.3 billion in 2023.

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