GhanaVeg works towards a sustainable and internationally competitive vegetable sector that contributes to inclusive economic growth and continuous innovation in terms of products and services.
Ghana's economy is rapidly changing, as a transition country, it will in the near future move more in the direction of a 'regular' trade partner than a development cooperation partner. A buoyant middle-class in coming up and the demand for high-value horticultural crops is increasing. A recent USAID project, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, already built the essential infrastructure for export horticulture (roads, cooling facilities), while also Ghana's government is prioritising sectors that can diversify its export base. It is in this wider context that the Embassy wants to support Ghana's horticultural sector.
Professionalization of the value chain for vegetable production
GhanaVeg is a collaboration of IFDC and the NABC and will strongly involve the Ghanaian as well as the international private sector. The aim of the collaboration is to further professionalise the value chain for vegetable production and consumption in Africa.
Overall vegetable consumption in Ghana is still relatively small in comparison with other African countries like Kenya, but it is expanding rapidly. Apart from local vegetables like coco yam, the most important vegetables are tomatoes, peppers (both sweet and hot chilies), onions and okra. Especially the market for tomatoes and peppers has boomed recently. In addition, the increasing upper middle-class is demanding better quality products, including more emphasis on food safety. In turn this will lead to greater market segmentation among specialized retail markets, wholesale bulk markets, and local production-consumption systems.
Increased export potential of vegetables
In terms of exports, Ghana’s vegetables show increased potential. While traditionally fruits like pineapple, bananas and mangoes were the main horticultural export crops, recently chillies (capsicum) and Asian vegetables (different types of gourds and okra), have become popular. In particular, exports of peppers are believed to have a comparative advantage over competitors like Kenya, given climatological conditions and relative distance to the European market. More recently, however, exports declined mainly because of issues related to MRLs (maximum residue levels) and Good Agricultural Practices (Global GAP).
Moving from ‘business as usual’ to more commercial vegetable production requires serious efforts. Currently, the vegetable chains are characterized by: (1) low availability and knowledge of improved inputs; (2) limited agronomic skills and practices; (3) poor food safety for both the domestic and export market; (4) poor post-harvest management; and (5) weak linkages between producers and buyers.
The overall mission of the project is to establish 'a sustainable and internationally competitive vegetable sector that contributes to inclusive economic growth and has the capacity to continuously innovate in terms of products and services'. It will achieve this through establishing a business platform, through trade missions and a set of funds for business opportunities, R&D and consultancies.
The project uses the concept of sector development for prioritising its activities in the specific area of the economy that deals with vegetables. At the core of the sector is the economic activity of vegetable production and sales, and the coordination between public, private and knowledge institutes to enhance growth.