Agriculture in GhanaAgriculture in Ghana The Republic of Ghana, lies within latitude 4o 44’ N and 11o11’ N and 3o 11’ W and 1o11’ E. The Gulf of Guinea, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean lies south of the country, and it forms a 550km-long coastline. The Volta River basin, including the artificially created Lake Volta, dominates the country’s drainage system. Ghana’s physical geography can be divided into four main geographic zones:
1. the coastline
2. the coastal plain
3. the forest belt
4. the dry savanna
Ghana coastline is made of low sandy foreshore continuously watered by the Atlantic Ocean. From Accra, the capital city, going toward the east (the border with Republic of Togo), this shoreline is broken by lagoons and creeks that are only separated from the sea by sand bars. The coastal plain averages a depth inland of approximately sixty miles northwards into the interior. In the west, the coastal plain is comprised mainly of tropical rainforests, much of which has been cut down to give way to human habitation and the cultivation of crops. In the east, the coastal plain is comprised of savanna forests (not as intense as the tropical rain forests to the west) and grasslands.
The ecological zone to the north of the coastal plains which makes up the middle belt of Ghana is comprised of deciduous forests. The northern third of the country is characterized as Guinea savanna; composed of grass and scattered deciduous trees.
Ghana is located in the tropical zone about 400 miles north or the equator. Consequently, it has for the most part a tropical climate. However, temperatures in the country vary relative to elevation and season. The tropical climate is generally characterized by a hot, rainy weather. Ghana have only two seasons, there is no Spring or Winter. Instead there is a succession of dry and rainy seasons. The rainy season is characterized by green and lush vegetation, while the dry season is dry and dusty. Some regions within the country have two rainy seasons in the year while others have only one. The southern half of the country has two rainy seasons, one running from April to July and the other from September to November. While the north experiences only one rainy season each year.
Another characteristic of the climate in Ghana, like in many tropical West African countries is the Harmattan. The Harmattan is a dry sand-filled winds blowing from the Sahara Desert far to the north of country. The Harmattan occurs in the dry season (November to March) when the Intertropical Convergence Belt that determines much of the climate and weather patterns in middle Africa, moves to the South of the Equator resulting in hot dry southerly winds from the Sahara Desert. The Harmattan, brings hot, hazy (caused by sand particles carried by the northerly winds) days, but the nights are cool. Temperatures normally rise in the month in March while the lowest occur in the month of August. On average the day-time temperature is about 79 Fahrenheit (26 Celsius) the daily temperature range in Ghana is 75-85 F for almost the entire year.
Ghana has a population of around 32 million (2021). The population distribution is varied across the 10 administrative regions and eco-zones of the country, with 68 % and 32 % living in the rural and urban areas respectively.
Employment in agriculture in Ghana was reported at 28.46 % in 2020, according to the World Bank- (% of total employment). However, in the rural areas agriculture is the employer of last resort and hence total agriculture employment—formal and informal—is even higher than the labor force study suggests.
Ghana’s agriculture is predominantly smallholder, traditional and rain-fed About 136,000 km2 of land, covering approximately 57 % of the country’s total land area of 238,539 km2 is classified as "agricultural land area" out of which 58,000 km2 (24.4 %) is under cultivation and 11,000 hectares under irrigation. About 60 % of all farms in the country are less than 1.2 hectares in size, 25 % are between 1.2 to 2.0 hectares, with a mere 15 % above 2.0 hectares.
Ghana’s farming systems vary with agro-ecological zones. However, certain general features are discernible throughout the country. The bush fallow system prevails wherever there is ample land to permit a plot to be rested enough to recoup its fertility, after one to three years’ cultivation. Staple crops are often mixed-cropped while cash crops are usually monocropped.
Cocoa production in GhanaThe agriculture sector contributes more than onefifth of Ghana’s GDP; agricultural exports—principally cocoa—are a key source of foreign exchange. Ghana is the world’s second-largest cocoa producer after Côte d’Ivoire, and cocoa represents about 10 percent of agricultural production. Other key crops include staple foods such as maize, cassava, and yam. While domestic rice production is on the rise, imports still account for about half of the country’s rapidly growing demand.
Cocoa production occurs in the country's forested areas: Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Central Region, Eastern Region, Western Region, and Volta, where rainfall is 1,000–1,500 millimeters per year. The crop year begins in October, when purchases of the main crop begin, with a smaller mid-crop cycle beginning in July.
Cocoa cultivation began in Ghana, according to the legend, fostered by a blacksmith called Tetteh Quarshie, who, in 1895, returned to his farm in the Eastern Region of Ghana with cocoa beans "in his pocket" from the island of Fernando Po (now Bioko) in Equatorial Guinea where there was already intensive plantation production of "slave-grown" cocoa.
Cocoa was first exported at the end of the 19th century, and between 1911 - 1976 Ghana was the world's leading producer, contributing between 30-40% of the world' s total output.
The agriculture sector contributes more than onefifth of Ghana’s GDP; agricultural exports—principally cocoa—are a key source of foreign exchange. Ghana is the world’s second-largest cocoa producer after Côte d’Ivoire, and cocoa represents about 10 percent of agricultural production. Other key crops include staple foods such as maize, cassava, and yam. While domestic rice production is on the rise, imports still account for about half of the country’s rapidly growing demand.
Crops production in GhanaIn the forest zone, tree crops are significant with oil palm, coffee and rubber being of particular importance. The food crops in this area are mainly inter-cropped mixtures of maize, plantain, cocoyam and cassava. The middle belt is characterized by mixed or sole cropping of maize, legumes, cocoyam or yam, with tobacco and cotton being the predominant cash crops. Cotton and tobacco are also important in the northern sector, where the food crops are mainly sorghum, maize, millet, cowpeas, groundnuts and yam. Rice is important in all the zones. More than one-third of Ghana's total land area is covered by forest, although not all of it is suitable for commercial exploitation. Commercial forestry is concentrated in the Western region in Southern Ghana, and has been the third largest foreign exchange earner in recent years (accounting for about 10 percent of exports)
Livestock production in GhanaAlthough the majority of rural households keep some sort of livestock, livestock farming is adjunct to crop farming. Ruminant livestock play a major role in the socio-cultural life of the farming communities as a partial determinant of wealth, payment of dowry, and act as a bank and insurance in times of difficulty. Poultry predominates in the south, while cattle production is concentrated in the Savannah zones. Sheep and goat production is generally widespread throughout the country. Sheep and goats are often slaughtered for various occasions and functions such as births, funeral and marriages.
Both the meat and milk production represent about 30 % of the national animal protein requirements. The country depends on imports of livestock, meat and milk to meet the animal protein shortfall. It is, however, difficult to estimate the amount of livestock and meat imported, as most of the live imports from the northern neighbours, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, are not recorded.
Fishing in GhanaThe fishing industry in Ghana is based on resources from the marine and inland (freshwater) sectors and coastal lagoons. Total capture fisheries production was about 298 000 tonnes in 2013; around 24 percent of this production (90 000 tonnes) came from inland fisheries mostly based on Lake Volta (the largest man-made lake in Africa) and Lake Bosumtwi (natural freshwater lake situated approximately 32 kilometres south east of the city of Kumasi).
Ghana’s fisheries sector consists of a varied and vigorous spectrum of fishing activities, ranging in scope from subsistence to semi-industrial, to industrial fisheries. Within this broad range, fish stocks are harvested from rivers, lakes, coastal lagoons and shallow seas and offshore waters in the Atlantic Ocean. Six different sources of domestic fish supply, including the marine fishery, lagoon fishery, Lake Volta, other inland fisheries, aquaculture and imports, can be obtained in Ghana.
The most common fish species landed in Ghana are the small pelagics, such as mackerel, horse mackerel, chub mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. These small pelagic species account for about 70 percent of the total marine fish capture in Ghana. Of these exploited pelagics, the most commercially-important in Ghana’s coastal fisheries are the sardinellas, namely round sardinella (Sardinella aurita) and Madeiran sardinella (S. maderensis) which occur in the entire Gulf of Guinea3.
Other fish species commonly caught in Ghana’s waters include cassava fish, flat sardinella, largehead hairtail, moonfish, red pandora, red snapper, skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna and groupers. Also, valuable demersal fish such as sole, shrimp, cuttlefish, burrito, red fishes (Sparidae) and burros (Pomadasidae) are exploited, especially during the upwelling season Ghana has a large expanse of water bodies. About 10 percent of Ghana’s land surface is covered by water. This includes a system of rivers, lagoons and lakes that form the basis of a robust inland fisheries industry.The main sources of freshwater fish in Ghana are Lake Volta, reservoirs originally meant for irrigation and potable water projects, and fish ponds. Lake Volta, with a surface area of 8 480 km² and 5 200 km of shoreline, contributes about 90 percent of the total inland fishery production in Ghana. Lake Volta hosts about 140 species of fish, and is estimated to produce about 16 percent of total domestic catch and 85 percent of inland fisheries output. Common freshwater species landed from Lake Volta are various species of tilapia, Chrysichtys sp., Synodontis, Mormyrids, Heterotis, Clarias sp., Bagrus sp., Citharinus sp. and the Nile perch (Lates niloticus). The months of July to August make up the peak landing season, while the low fishing period runs between January and February.
Aquaculture has a great potential in Ghana,although the aquaculture subsector consists mainly of small-scale operators who practice on a subsistence level using the semi-intensive system of production in earthen ponds. Many farmers employ the extensive culture system by which dams, dugout ponds and reservoirs are used for fish rearing.