Name:
Location: Accra, Accra, Ghana

Franklin Cudjoe is head of Ghanaian think-tank Imani: The Centre for Humane Education, whose vision is to educate and create a core of young scholars that will promote market oriented policies throughout Africa. He was formerly a programme officer and research assistant at the Institute of Economic Affairs in Ghana. A Land Economist by training, Franklin works closely with partner think-tanks across the world to promote public policy ideas in Ghana and abroad. He is a frequent commentator in print and broadcast media about Africa development issues, including appearances on BBC, CBC, Swiss and Swedish National TV, Austrian National Radio and varied local Ghanaian media, and has been published or quoted in the Ghanaian Daily Graphic Accra Daily Mail, Ghana Web, My Joy online, London's Daily Telegraph,The Wall Street Journal, El Mercurio (Chile), La Republica (Costa Rica),the Ottawa Citizen, the San Francisco Chronicle, Netzeitung Voice Of Germany, and many others. Franklin speaks to policy makers, students groups in Ghana and abroad. Franklin is an Adjunct Fellow at the Independent Institute in the USA and the International Policy Network in London.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

WTO Talks killing Ghanaian Rice???

In an article titled “WTO talks killing Ghanaian rice- No markets for farmers means no money for Ghana” which appeared in the December 14, edition of the Ghanaian Chronicle,(http://www.ghanaian-chronicle.com/thestory.asp?ID=8635) Ghana’s only farmer representative at the WTO talks in Hong Kong Nashiru Mohammed, who is also President of the Peasant Farmer's Association is asking Ghana to impose stiff tariffs on imported goods such as cotton, poultry and rice because they are competing on an uneven keel with local production.

It was refreshing however, to hear read from the Government representative at the WTO dismiss the assertion that tariffs are the problem. But he was unfortunately evasive on the real reasons why farmers can't add value to increase their market share.

The real determinants here are high import taxes on agricultural machinery. I have always argued that import taxes are indeterminate until the day you get your imported goods into your home. A best estimate on imported used saloon car is almost 100%. Port authorities demand 50% of the original value of the car,
12.5% VAT, Regional levy of 0.5%, 1% CIF value, haulage tax which varies, and bribes to facilitate speedy paper work. Imagine how much will be slammed on heavy agricultural equipment when we know in Ghana that we do not have enough rice mills, even the technologically archaic!

In a related article, http://www.panos.org.uk/global/tradingplaces_feature1.asp a farmer said, “All we want is for the [Ghanaian] government to assist us to acquire simple processing machines, so that on a small scale we can start to process our produce, which will help us to cut back on losses during the periods of glut".

The second reason obviously is very access to credit. It is very difficult to access loans when you are a subsistence farmer in Ghana because your collateral isn't big enough. And even when the collateral exists for large scale farmers, the cost of borrowing is steep high- almost 28% across board. The high cost of production translates into higher prices for ordinary Ghanaians.

Indeed, some savvy Ghanaian businessmen have helped both local farmers and consumers, for instance by providing locally produced rice in packages. But that ensures the rice isn't stale when it reaches the consumer. Similarly, other Ghanaian entrepreneurs now collaborate with their Italian counterparts to produce tomato paste brands with Akan names, Ghana's widely spoken language.

Yes, attitudes are part of the problem. - I agree that locally produced rice is more nutritious but that is not an excuse to ban or increase tariffs against imported rice.
If we did ban rice and tomato imports, just how would we feed ourselves? Ghanaians depend on rice as a major staple in our diets, yet local production caters for only 30pc of the rice we consume. Where is the remaining 70pc supposed to come from?

8 Comments:

Anonymous Jim said...

I'm puzzled. You say that Ghana has high import taxes on agricultural machinery. But the US Government says that Ghana applies zero import duties on agricultural and industrial machinery, compared to a 20% standard rate. Link here: http://www.ustr.gov/assets/Document_Library/Reports_Publications/2004/2004_National_Trade_Estimate/2004_NTE_Report/asset_upload_file781_4767.pdf

Who's right?

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Anonymous maria luiza gregorio said...

Dear Mr.
How can I get some statistical data about the consumptio n and import of rice and maise in Ghana?
I am finding it very hard. I heard there is a Statistical Centre, but I cannot find it in the internet.
Thank you

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Rachia Salifu finds the rice-growing season the most difficult time of year. During the day she works the fields with her baby on her back in temperatures that can reach 43C. march madness In the evening there is not enough food for her five children so she listens to them cry with hunger, unable to help.Ms Salifu farms rice on one acre in the dusty village of Nyarigu near the northern border of Ghana and her story is typical of local rice farmers. Over the past three decades, Ghana's rice industry has collapsed. Farmers struggle to make a living and unemployed villagers flock to the cities.
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