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A.1 The City of Accra and its Metropolis
A.2 Food Supply and Distribution Systems to Accra and its Metropolis
A.3 Sources of Food Supplies to Accra and its Metropolis
A.4 Marketing Channels
A.5 Food Traders
A.6 Urban market infrastructure

A.1 The City of Accra and its Metropolis

Urban growth has a number of direct and indirect consequences on food supply and distribution. All are relevant in any assessment of urban food security. For example, urban growth increases the demand for marketed food but reduces the availability of productive land. It modifies food-purchasing habits and makes existing market area and infrastructure inadequate, both in rural and urban areas.

“Urban growth also increases the price of land, intensifies traffic, alters the location of consumers, and modifies food consumption habits.” (Argenti, 1998).
Map 1 is a representation of Accra and its Metropolis in 1943. Ten years later the increase in settlements made areas such as Achimota, Cantonments and West of Korle Gono (sub-urban areas in 1943) part of urban Accra (Map 2). The Master Plan map designed in the 1970s shows that residential settlements continue to expand.

Map 1: Accra and its Metropolis in 1943.

The official annual rate of population growth in Ghana is 3% (Sackey, 1998) while that of the population of the Accra Metropolitan area is 3.4%. If the agricultural growth rate does not average 4 percent by the year 2000, then the food deficit would reach 778,000 Metric tonnes (Mt) in that year (Nyanteng, 1998 and Dapaah, 1997).

As Ghana approaches middle income status by year 2020, additional pressure on the food system will also come in terms of food variety and quality. In fact, food consumption patterns are likely to change away from inferior carbohydrates (such as cassava, cocoyam, plantain, and yam) to superior proteins (such as meat and dairy products), as well as more fruits and vegetables. The marketing of these perishable products requires greater sophistication in storage, quality control and distribution facilities.

In Accra, 95 percent of households purchase the food they consume. This means that when food prices increase, low-income families find it increasingly difficult to feed themselves. Food prices in Accra have been following an upward trend, with major staples increasing by 200 to 400 percent over the three-year period 1993-6 (de Lardemelle, 1996).

Official statistics indicate that the Greater Accra region is a deficit food production area. It must rely on production transported from the Forest zones, Transitional zones and further north from the Savannah areas. The arable agricultural sector performs erratically from year to year dependent mostly on rainwater. Food imports into the Accra Metropolis to supplement local production shortfalls are now a regular feature.

This situation thus poses the following questions:

In answering the above questions, attention must be placed upon FSDS to Accra and its Metropolis, their efficiency and dynamism, as well as upon their ability to stimulate national production to meet increasing urban food requirements.

A.2 Food Supply and Distribution Systems to Accra and its Metropolis

State interventions through Marketing Boards having mostly proven inefficient, African countries have increasingly placed emphasis on private sector FSDS. Such systems have demonstrated their ability to adapt to changing urban food demands and to induce, when properly functioning, changes in farm production systems.

FSDS are, however, complex systems, the efficiency of which is affected by many factors. Policy makers must recognize that FSDS need to be:

“... provided with an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework, adequate and well-managed market infrastructure, transport facilities, credit facilities, market information, investment incentives and skills.” (Argenti, 1998).
Map 2: Accra and its Metropolis in 1953.
Areas such as Achimota, Cantonments and West of Korle Gono (sub-urban areas in 1943) are part of urban Accra.
Well functioning FSDS require the intervention of both public and private sectors. This is because private food marketing activities must take place within agreed rules and regulations while market infrastructure and services must respond to the needs of all market agents. Private investments in food marketing activities, if they are forthcoming, require a stable political and economic environment.

The public sector, be it central or local, needs to assist private market agents in overcoming daily constraints and to effectively plan ahead. This requires, on the part of the public decision makers and planners:

“An overall understanding of the way FSDS operate is essential, for, in the present context, any isolated intervention in one market can upset the workings of markets linked to it and cancel out any anticipated advantages.” (Wilhelm, 1997).
It also requires an effective and constructive dialogue between the public and the private sector.

An important aspect of FSDS is its informal component. Informal food marketing activities are particularly important because they are the means through which the poorer consumers have access to low-cost food. They also generate employment and thus revenues. Yet informal traders are often discriminated against. They are denied access to market infrastructure facilities and services and subject to police harassment. The role of the informal food sector in enhancing the food security of urban populations must be recognised and their activities supported.

A.3 Sources of Food Supplies to Accra and its Metropolis

A.3.1 Tubers

The most important tubers consumed in the Accra Metropolis are yam, cassava and cocoyam.

Yam is mostly produced in the Brong Ahafo and Northern Region and, to a limited extent, in the northern fringes of the Volta Region. Cassava and cocoyam are also very important tubers. They come largely form the Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern and Western Regions.

A.3.2 Cereals and Legumes

Maize is the most important staple in the Accra Metropolis. While there is some limited local production, the bulk of production comes from the Brong Ahafo Region, the Northern Region, the Ashanti Region and the Western Region. Some food imports occasionally take place, in times of shortfall.

Rice is produced in the Upper, Northern and Volta Region. Irrigation schemes close to Accra (Kpong) also serve as important sources of local rice to the Accra Metropolis. Millets and sorghum are produced in the three northern regions. The main legumes are groundnuts, cowpea and Bambara beans. They are produced in the three northern regions (Upper West, Upper East and the Northern Region).

A.3.3 Others food products

Plantain and fruits such as bananas and oranges originate from the Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions.

Tomatoes come from the Upper east of Ghana (over 900 km away) and the Brong Ahafo region. Most onions come from Niger and Mali though some originate from the Upper East regions and peri-urban vegetable gardens of Accra. Groundnuts oils and Shea Butter oil are produced in the three northern regions, while Copra oil and palm oil originate from the Ashanti and Western regions.

A.4 Marketing Channels

Marketing channels are usually short for peri-urban production. They become more complex, and therefore more costly, the longer the distance of food supply areas from Accra.

Peri-urban agriculture in the Accra area mainly involves perishable products such as fish, poultry, milk products, maize, vegetables and fruits. Farm produce from peri-urban sources is sold by producers or by their wives directly to consumers or through small traders.

Road or rail transports food products produced within 100 km of Accra. Private transport plays an essential role. The Ghana Private Transports Union (GPRTU), a transport co-operative, handles the bulk of produce. Transportation is an important cost factor in the marketing of food consumed in the Accra Metropolis. Rail transport costs are lower than road transport and this has favoured the development of spontaneous markets near rail stations. Such markets operate according to train arrivals and departures.

The long-distance channels have itinerant traders as the main operators. They also deal with meat on the hoof, smoked fish, grain, onions and tubers. A long-distance food-marketing channel can be portrayed as follows:

Nakamas (Frontline Assemblers)
Itinerant Wholesalers
Resident Wholesalers
Retailers (Market Traders)
Retailers (Hawkers)

Itinerant traders control much of the operations along the longer market channels. They establish, in some cases, agreements with producers on which basis they share production risks by pre-financing agricultural production. These agreements are often criticised for generating non-remunerative returns to producers, but are justified by traders on the basis of the risks they bear and the high cost of capital from formal institutions.

A.5 Food Traders

The most vocal traders are the members, mainly women, of traders associations often headed by a Market Queen. They are organised and powerful and take on wholesale and retail activities. They usually have networks of small retailers who also depend upon them for social and family support.

Small retailers, in turn, rely upon hawkers for food sales within and between markets to small-scale agro-processors, millers, and sellers of precooked foods and consumers.

A.6 Urban market infrastructure

There are 47 market sites in Accra. The majority of them are day markets (except for Sundays) with most business concluded by 6.00 p.m. Five are night markets and eight are specialised in the marketing of food. Other markets operate on specific weekdays. For example: the Mamprobi Market takes place on Tuesdays. Most of the recent markets have developed spontaneously, near rail stations or in new residential areas (see map 3).

Much of the land between the airport and Accra is now residential. There is no market site east of Nungua until one reaches Tema, in spite of the almost total build up of residential accommodation in that vast area stretching over 20 km parallel to the coast. According to Nyanteng (1998), the original layout of the residential areas in the Accra Metropolis included sites for markets, which have been used for residential buildings.

The failure to provide functional market areas means food marketing activities take place in the old city, in spite of its limited space for traffic, lorry parking, access points, banking and wholesale facilities. The spillage of traders and hawkers onto roads close to markets and at all traffic lights all over the Metropolis is a manifestation of planning failures.

While there is no specialised food wholesale market in Accra (de Lardemelle, 1996), in the area under AMA jurisdiction, there are four markets that are predominantly wholesale:

In sixteen other urban markets some wholesale activities take place with a degree of commodity specialisation (for example: maize).

In areas such as Bimbila, Zabzugu, Ejura and Techiman where arable production is concentrated, wholesale operations take place in the local assembly markets. These markets lack appropriate facilities: parking areas, loading and unloading bays, storage facilities, etc. Scales are hardly ever used.

Retail activities take place in all markets. According to de Lardemelle (1996) there were 43 retail markets in Accra in 1996. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MAE) estimates that food retailing turnover is around Cedis 3.9 millions or US$ 1.0 million per annum.

Map 3: Distribution of market sites in the AMA Sub-Districts

Source: adapted from Nyanteng (1988)


Ashiedu Keteke (A on map)
1. James Town Market
2. Agbogbloshie Market
3. Kantanmanto Market
4. Adabraka Market
5. Ussher Town Market
6. Accra Central Market
7. Odorkor Market
8. New Generation Market
9. Sabon Zongo Market
10. Kwashieman Market
11. Darkuman Market
12. Sukura Market
13. Malam Junction Market
14. Lartebiokorshie Market
15. Korle Gonno Market
16. Dansoman Market
17. Mamprobi Market
Okai Koi
18. Achimota Market
19. Ashiawo Market
20. Abeka Market
21. Kantanmanto Market
22. Kaneshie Market
23. Alajo Market
24. Mamobi Market
25. Malata (New Town) Market
26. Nima Market
Osu Klottey
27. Christianborg Market
28. La Market
29. Teshie Market
30. Nungua Market

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