FAO GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

SPECIAL REPORT

FAO/WFP CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION TO NORTHERN GHANA

13 March 2002

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MISSION HIGHLIGHTS

  • Production of cereals (except rice) in northern Ghana as a whole was below average due to late start and early cessation of rains. However, in some locations production was above average and better than 2000.
  • At the national level, the food supply situation in Ghana is close to normal. The reduction in the production of cereals in northern regions will be covered by adequate availability of other foodcrops, anticipated commercial imports and food aid already pledged.
  • Nevertheless, worst affected areas and vulnerable groups will require food assistance estimated at about 5 000 tonnes to compensate for their reduced harvests.
  • Evolution of grain prices in the three northern regions needs to be closely monitored in order to determine the necessity or otherwise for market interventions.
  • Pasture and livestock conditions are only marginally worse than normal for the time of year

 

1. OVERVIEW

In response to reports of unusually dry weather conditions affecting crop production in the northern regions of Ghana from September 2001 onwards, the Government requested FAO and WFP to carry out a joint assessment of the food situation in the area. Accordingly, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited the country from 5 to 19 February 2002. Since the visit was undertaken almost two months after the end of the normal harvest period (October to December), its main objectives were to evaluate the impact of the drought on crop production, livestock and food supplies in the north of the country, and to determine whether there was or would be a need for food aid. The mission was also charged with collating food-crop production data that had been collected by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) from other parts of the country and drawing up a national food balance sheet for the -2002 marketing year (January/December).

The mission was briefed in Accra by various departments of MOFA, the Ministry of Health, UNDP, FAO, WFP, UNICEF, and other international aid agencies and NGOs. It then proceeded, accompanied by staff from MOFA and the Regional and Accra offices of FAO, to Northern Region, Upper East Region and Upper West Region. There, the mission was briefed by Regional and District MOFA staff, field visits were made, and interviews were conducted with farmers, traders, NGOs and others. For the field visits the mission split into two teams in order to maximise geographical coverage. On return to Accra, the mission discussed its findings with the Government and donor agencies.

Since there were no crops in the field at the time of the mission's visit, much of the information on crop production was based on MOFA estimates of areas planted, yields and production, and on accounts of the season provided by MOFA, farming communities and others involved in agriculture. Representative areas were selected for field visits following discussions with MOFA. Discussions with farmers in these areas focused on their perceptions of the 2001 cropping season compared with the previous year and compared with an average year; household grain stores were inspected and livestock and pasture condition were assessed. Farmgate and retail prices of grain and livestock were elicited from official Government sources, NGOs, farmers and traders. In the urban centres, information was gathered on the amount of grain held by the Government and traders. Available rainfall records were examined, and use was made of satellite imagery of cold cloud cover and vegetation to arrive at a picture of the rainfall pattern over the country's three northern regions in 2001.

In all the three regions, the mission found sufficient concurrence between the descriptions of the season's cropping characteristics that were provided by farmers, rural communities and traders and the descriptions provided by MOFA. The mission discussed with MOFA the methodology it uses to estimate cropped areas and yields, and considered it to be sound. Consequently, the data were accepted by the Mission, with adjustments where necessary.

The mission concluded that the 2001 season was worse than that of 2000 in the three northern regions, that there were already some localized food shortages by February 2002, and that the situation could deteriorate in the coming months. However, the situation was not considered to be an emergency, but rather a poor year following a good year. If the rains start normally in 2002, the performance of 2001 would have minimal lasting effect. Furthermore, cereal deficits in the north are likely to be covered by normal commercial movement of food, both cereal and non-cereal, from other regions of the country and from neighboring countries, coupled with food aid already pledged, amounting to 89 000 tonnes. However, vulnerable households which lost crops should be targeted for assistance.

2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONTEXT 1/

Ghana is located on the west coast of Africa, about 750 km north of the equator. The country has a total land area of 238 300 km2 and it borders Burkina Faso to the north, Côte d'Ivoire to the east and Togo to the west. Most of the country is flat and the altitude varies between 500m and 200m above sea level. The Volta River basin dominates the county's river system, including the 8 480 km2 covered by Lake Volta. The south has an extensive rain forest while the north is mostly savannah. Southern Ghana has a tropical climate with two main rainy seasons, from March to July and from September to October, separated by a short dry season in August and a relatively long dry season from mid-October to March. In the northern savannah zone rainfall is monomodal. Annual rainfall in the south averages 2 030 mm, compared to less than 1 000 mm in the north.

The population in 2002 is estimated at approximately 19.4 million, of which more than 45 percent are under the age of 15. Population growth is estimated at about 2.6 percent per year. The average population density is around 52 persons per km2. Most of the population is concentrated in the southern part of the country, with the highest densities in the urban and cocoa-producing areas. Ghana ranks 119th in the Human Development Index of UNDP (2001). It is a low-income food-deficit country with a per capita income of less than US$340 per year. The World Bank has estimated that 31 percent of the population live below the poverty line. Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions are the poorest areas of the country, with levels of malnutrition estimated at more than double the national average.

Ghana had a total GDP of US$5.2 billion in 2000. The country is endowed with relatively high levels of natural resources, including arable land, forests and mineral deposits of diamonds, gold, manganese and bauxite. Agriculture is the main economic activity, generating 36 percent of GDP and employing around 60 percent of the population. Industry accounts for about 25 percent, mining 6 percent and services 30 percent. Real GDP grew by 3.7 percent in 2000 , but agriculture grew by only 2.1 percent.

Ghana's main food crops are maize, rice, millet, sorghum, cassava, yam, cocoyam and plantains. Cereal production has been relatively stagnant in the last 5 years, but production of starchy staples has been growing at a rate of more than 4 percent per year. Approximately 40 percent of cereal production is concentrated in Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions. Millet and sorghum are the predominant crops in these areas. However, around 60 percent of the maize production is concentrated in Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti and Eastern Regions. Production of cassava and yam, the country's other main staples, is also concentrated in the southern regions.

In the last two years, the economy of Ghana has experienced a growing fiscal deficit, an increase in Government debt, a deterioration in the terms of trade and balance of payments, high levels of inflation and a sharp depreciation of the national currency.

The country's main exports are gold, cocoa, diamonds, timber, bauxite, coffee, tuna and textiles. Its main import items are petroleum, consumer durables, foods and capital equipment. Exports in 2000 totalled US$1 861 million, against imports of US$2 833 million. As a consequence, the country has a trade deficit of almost US$ 1.0 billion. Cocoa is the most important agricultural export, accounting for some 30-40 percent of total exports in 2000, down from more than 50 percent in the 1980s. Most cocoa is produced by more than 1.6 million small farmers on plots of less than 3 ha in Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Central , Eastern, Western and Volta Regions. Production of cocoa in 1999/2000 was estimated at more than 400 000 tonnes.

Prices of cocoa, which represents around 25 percent of export earnings, dropped to a 30-year low in 1999, while oil import prices increased sharply. As a result, Ghana's terms of trade deteriorated by around 30 percent during 2000 and have remained at about the same level since then. As a consequence, the country is experiencing a very serious balance of payments difficulties. The current-account deficit reached US$457 million by the end of 2000, equivalent to 8.8 percent of GDP. The situation has greatly eroded Ghana's international reserves, which reached US$174 million in mid-2001, equivalent to less than one month of imports of goods and services. Foreign direct investments and private capital flows have been falling steadily, and the country remains highly dependent on official international sources of credit to cover its financial requirements. In 1999 official development assistance dropped drastically to US$607.5 million from US$700.9 million in 1998. Ghana's external debt has more than quadrupled, from US$1.4 billion in 1980 to US$6.9 billion in 1999. The total debt already represents more than 130 percent of GDP, and debt service eats up more than 20 percent of export earnings.

Fiscal policies in 1999 and 2000 resulted in a budget deficit equivalent to more than 8.8 percent of GDP in 2000. However, the Government has made strong efforts to improve its fiscal performance. The nominal fiscal imbalance improved to a deficit of US$216 million in the second quarter of 2001 after a deficit of US$1 030 million in the fourth quarter of 2000. This improvement has helped to reduce inflation and stabilise the currency. However, the high level of Government borrowing keeps interest rates at very high levels of close to 40 percent.

Inflation increased from an annual average of about 15 percent at the beginning of 2000 to around 40 percent at the end of that year. It remained within the 35 percent-40 percent range during the first half of 2001, but fell gradually to an annual level of around 20 percent by the beginning of 2002.

The national currency, the cedi (¢), depreciated by more than 50 percent during 2000 but has remained relatively stable during 2001. As a consequence, Ghana's food exports (grains and yam) are now more competitive in neighbouring countries.

3. FOOD CROP PRODUCTION IN 2001

The agriculturally important north of Ghana has a sub-humid climate. Rainfall is monomodal, with more than three-quarters of the annual total falling between May and September. Annual rainfall is generally between 1 000 and 1 200 mm, with a slight decrease in amount and duration from south to north. The area is poor in relation to the rest of Ghana, with more than 75 percent of the population dependent on smallholdings and livestock. According to MOFA statistics, the average size of holding is about 2 ha per household, which is rather larger than the national average. However, with its single cropping season, unreliable rainfall, and mostly shallow soils of low fertility, the area is regarded as marginal as far as the sufficiency of its own crop production is concerned. Although cassava and yam are grown extensively in the southern parts of Northern and Upper West Regions, their importance declines towards the north of the area where the cropping is overwhelmingly cereal- and legume-based. Livestock play an important role as a buffer against crop production shortfalls in all parts, but their use as such is generally as a last resort.

In 2001, most of the zone reported low or no rainfall from September onwards, and significant reductions were expected in cereal and legume production compared with the previous year. However, because rainfall amounts and distribution in 2000 were very satisfactory, this has led to an exaggerated perception of the year 2001 as being unusually poor. Although production figures for millet, sorghum and maize were below the average for the preceding four years, the degree of reduction was within the range for those years. On the other hand, rice, groundnut and yam production figures were above average, and cassava production was high.

3.1 Main factors affecting production in 2001

Rainfall was by far the most significant environmental factor affecting crop production in the three northern regions during 2001, with most cereal crops suffering yield reductions. There was a localised outbreak of armyworm in Upper East Region, but, although it was serious for the area affected, its impact on production in the zone was minimal when compared with that of rainfall. 2001 saw a reduction in the area of maize harvested, but there were expansions in sorghum, millet and rice compared to the average of the previous four years. There were also expansions in the harvested areas of yam, cassava and groundnut. Cereal yields were all lower than average, apart from rice, which showed a slight increase over the four-year average.

Agricultural credit

The majority of small farmers in Ghana do not have access to bank financing or agricultural credit. Also, bank lending rates, at close to 40 percent per year, are too high for them. However, there is a certain amount of informal credit in rural areas by which local traders lend inputs to be paid back in grain after the harvest. In addition, there are other forms of informal credit within the small farmer population. For instance, if a family is short of food, it may borrow grain from other families in the community, repaying it after the harvest with interest rates of up to 50 percent. Some NGOs have also introduced small-farmer group credit schemes to support the introduction of inputs, irrigation or diversification into new crops. However, these schemes still reach only a very small portion of the farming population. In terms of agricultural finance and credit, 2001 was a normal year.

Rainfall

The rains of 2000 were especially good in northern Ghana, with adequate amounts that were well distributed. During 2001, most parts of the three northern regions received total amounts of rainfall that were not very different from the average. However, although amounts were generally, but not universally, lower than those received in 2000, the main problem with the rains of 2001 was one of distribution. Most areas experienced a late and irregular start to the rains, and in all areas the rains stopped unseasonably early. During the rainy season there were short but destructive dry periods in many places, especially in the north-east, during the second half of June and the first half of July. In August and early September, many areas, especially in the north, experienced excessively heavy rainfall. Then towards the end of September the rains stopped in most areas.

The principal effect of the 2001 rainfall pattern on the main cereal crops was a reduction in yield caused by the early ending of the season in September, at a time when crops were at their grain-filling stage. Also, the minor crop of early millet, which is normally harvested in late July or early August and is important as an early food source in Upper East Region, suffered from the dry spells experienced in June and July. For a majority of farmers, the effects of the rainfall pattern on cereal yields were exacerbated by late planting caused by poor access to traction for land preparation. The irregular start to the rains also hit early-sown cereals after emergence so that large areas of land, especially in Northern Region, had to be replanted, usually with groundnut. The heavy rains in August led to an excessive vegetative growth in cereals, especially sorghum, which delayed grain formation and maturation.

In Northern Region yam yields were depressed by the poor rains and insufficient soil moisture at the end of the season. Yield reduction manifested itself in the form of small tubers. Yields in the yam-growing areas of southern Upper West region were less affected and in fact showed a slight increase on 2000. Cassava, being more resilient than yam under irregular rainfall conditions, did not suffer significant reductions in yield.

Area planted

The harvested area of maize in the three northern regions was less than the average for 1997-2000, though it was higher than for 2000. The lower-than-average area was partly due to post-emergence losses caused by poor rainfall at the beginning of the season (such areas were usually replanted to groundnuts), but the decline can also be partly attributed to farmers increasingly regarding maize as an uneconomic crop unless it has the benefit of subsidised fertiliser. Millet also suffered post-emergence losses but its harvested area showed a slight increase on the recent average. Sorghum area was also above average, which may be partly explained by its replacing maize in the absence of subsidised fertiliser. The area under rice expanded in 2001 (above average and above 2000) as a result of increased off-scheme smallholder production in valleys and low-lying areas. Groundnut, cowpea, yam and cassava areas all increased between 2000 and 2001. There was a significant expansion of the area under yams in Northern Region (35 percent) in 2001 compared with 2000 so that overall yam production for 2001 was up 16 percent on the previous year for the three regions. Similarly, a 58 percent expansion of area under cassava was reported; this was largely attributed to the activities of the Roots and Tubers Improvement Project, but the figures may have been influenced by the harvesting of long-cycle cultivars that had been planted in 1999. In conjunction with a slight increase in yield, this expansion in area led to a reported increase in production in the three northern regions of more than 80 percent over that of 2000.

Agricultural inputs

The availability of operational tractors and draught oxen is low in most parts of the northern regions. This causes many farmers to plant their crops late. The problem was especially evident in 2001 when crops that were sown late failed to reach maturity before the end of the rains. Recent increases in fuel prices are expected exacerbate the tractor situation in the coming season.

Fertiliser use for food crops is low in Ghana, and has declined very significantly since subsidies were removed in the early 1990s. For instance, 45 000 tonnes of fertiliser were imported into the country in 1990 (for both cash and food crops), but this figure had fallen to less than 12 000 tonnes by 1994. Even in 1990, when fertilisers were still subsidised, MOFA estimated a national application rate of as little as 4.2 kg/ha for both annual and perennial crops. Now, with a 50 kg bag of compound fertiliser costing between ¢130 000 and ¢150 000, most farmers cannot afford to use it or consider its use uneconomic. Certainly they are unwilling to use it at the recommended rate for maize of five bags of compound and two-and-a-half bags of sulphate of ammonia per hectare. However, in northern Ghana there are two locally important exceptions to the general rule of negligible fertiliser use on food crops. Where cotton is grown, as in parts of Upper West Region, a large proportion of farmers tend to use at least some of their subsidised cotton fertiliser allocation (¢100 000 per bag) on maize, and their enhanced yields testify to its efficacy. Where irrigation is available and fertiliser is subsidised, as on the Tono scheme, most farmers apply fertiliser to their rice; again the result is enhanced yields. It is interesting to note, however, that even under such circumstances there is still a significant number of farmers who do not use fertiliser.

At the time of the mission, it appeared that all farmers were still holding seed for the coming season, and none anticipated being forced by food shortages to consume it.

Weeds, pests and diseases

Weed infestation levels in the north of Ghana were normal during the 2001 cropping season. Certain areas are regularly affected by Striga, but its prevalence was no worse than usual in 2001. It appears that labour for weeding was generally available for those who could pay for it.

The incidence of crop pests and diseases in the north of Ghana was generally low during the 2001 season. However, in Bawku East and Bawku West Districts of Upper East Region there was an outbreak of armyworms during May and June which affected an area of about 1 500 ha of millet and maize; losses were significant. In Upper West Region there have been reports of stored groundnut being attacked by a pest that has yet to be identified. Storage pests of cowpea are common in northern Ghana and have led this year - as in most years - to considerable losses.

3.2 Food crop production estimate

Cereal production in 2001 in the three northern regions of Ghana - Upper West, Upper East and Northern - is estimated at approximately 690 000 tonnes. This compares with an average of about 750 000 tonnes over the four-year period 1997 - 2000, and 743 000 tonnes in 2000. The highest recorded production in the four-year period 1997 - 2000 was 873 000 tonnes in 1998, while the lowest was 663 000 tonnes (1997), which is well below that of 2001. Cereal production data for the northern zone in 2001 with, for comparison, the average figures for the four-year period 1997-2000 and the deviation from the average for each cereal in 2001 is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Northern Ghana - Cereal Production in 2001 compared to 1997-2000 Average

 
Area ('000 ha)
Yield (tonnes/ha)
Production ('000 tonnes)
 
2001
Average
97-00
Percent
Change
2001
Average
97-00
2001
Average
97-00
percent change
Maize
150
153.8
-2.5
0.90
0.97
136
149.2
-8.8
Sorghum
324
308.1
5.2
0.85
0.99
274
305.3
-10.2
Millet
193
185.1
4.3
0.70
0.86
135
158.7
-14.9
Rice
78
70.3
10.9
2.05
1.94
145
136.4
+6.3
Total
745
717.3
3.9
   
690.0
749.6
-7.9

MOFA provided the mission with food crop production figures in 2000 and 2001 for each of the country's ten regions, and these are presented in Tables 2 and 3. Figure 1 indicates the slight reduction nationally in maize, millet and sorghum production in 2001 compared with the previous year, and the increase in rice and groundnut production. At the national level it is evident that 2001 exhibited deviations that one would expect in a normal cropping year.

Table 2: Ghana - Regional crop production, 2000 (Area: 000 ha. Yield: tonnes/ha. Production 000 tonnes)*

Region   Maize Rice Millet Sorghum Cassava Yam Cocoyam Plantain Groundnut Cowpea
Western Area 52 15     70 13 37 54    
  Yield 1.43 1.26     9.55 6.44 5.89 7.49    
  Production 74 19     667 83 219 405    
Central Area 89       79 4 18 10    
  Yield 1.32       17.57 4.97 4.62 5.65    
  Production 117 0     1 380 22 85 59    
Eastern Area 148 12     150 34 55 70    
  Yield 1.63 2.00     11.53 17.08 6.82 7.95    
  Production 242 25     1 729 582 375 557    
Greater Accra Area 7 2     11 0 0 0    
  Yield 0.89 4.50     5.90          
  Production 6 9     64          
Volta Area 45 11   5 67 22 8 5    
  Yield 1.40 3.28   1.00 16.90 10.90 4.39 6.00    
  Production 63 35   5 1 135 236 34 33    
Ashanti Area 115 5     125 18 91 64    
  Yield 1.67 2.27     9.76 12.74 7.01 9.17    
  Production 192 11     1 218 226 637 584    
Brong-Ahafo Area 95 5     126 96 38 41    
  Yield 1.75 0.61     13.46 14.96 7.19 7.24    
  Production 166 3     1 702 1 432 275 295    
Northern Area 99 30 62 96 33 52     60 50
  Yield 0.80 2.40 0.80 0.75 6.50 10.00     0.67 0.79
  Production 79 73 50 72 211 518     40 40
Upper West Area 35 4 61 104   23     48 41
  Yield 1.62 2.26 0.80 1.02   11.63     1.42 0.58
  Production 57 9 49 105   263     69 24
Upper East Area 10 31 85 85         109  
  Yield 1.56 2.08 0.83 1.16         0.91  
  Production 16 65 70 98         100  
Ghana Area 695 115 208 289 660 261 247 244 218 91
  Yield 1.46 2.16 0.81 0.97 12.28 12.88 6.57 7.91 0.96 0.70
  Production 1 013 249 169 280 8 107 3 363 1 625 1 932 209 63

Source: Statistics, Research and Information Directorate (SRID), Ministry of Food & Agriculture, February 2001

Table 3: Ghana - Regional crop production, 2001
(Area: 000 ha. Yield: tonnes/ha. Production: 000 tonnes)

Region
 
Maize
Rice
Millet
Sorghum
Cassava
Yam
Cocoyam
Plantain
Groundnut
Cowpea
Western
Area
54
16
   
72
13
38
56
   
 
Yield
1.39
1.30
   
9.83
6.53
5.93
7.69
   
 
Production
75
20
   
707
85
223
429
   
Central
Area
91
3
   
80
5
19
10
   
 
Yield
1.30
2.15
   
18.27
5.05
4.70
5.77
   
 
Production
118
7
   
1 464
23
87
60
   
Eastern
Area
148
13
   
180
37
58
84
   
 
Yield
1.36
2.00
   
11.60
16.59
6.80
7.06
   
 
Production
201
25
   
2 088
609
393
593
   
Greater Accra
Area
8
3
   
11
0
0
0
   
 
Yield
0.81
9.80
   
6.18
         
 
Production
7
28
   
70
0
0
0
   
Volta
Area
43
13
 
5
70
22
8
6
   
 
Yield
1.47
3.40
 
1.00
15.51
9.93
4.38
5.88
   
 
Production
64
45
 
5
1 078
223
35
34
   
Ashanti
Area
119
6
   
129
18
102
66
   
 
Yield
1.42
2.06
   
10.15
12.84
6.59
8.58
   
 
Production
170
11
   
1 304
228
672
569
   
Brong-Ahafo
Area
99
5
   
133
99
39
43
   
 
Yield
1.69
0.61
   
14.10
14.96
7.19
7.24
   
 
Production
168
3
   
1 873
1 475
278
310
   
Northern
Area
104
34
64
99
52
70
   
67
48
 
Yield
0.67
1.85
0.62
0.53
7.35
8.87
   
0.64
0.75
 
Production
70
63
40
53
382
621
   
43
36
Upper West
Area
36
4
65
113
 
24
   
52
53
 
Yield
1.40
2.50
0.64
0.82
 
11.87
   
1.51
0.50
 
Production
51
10
42
92
 
283
   
79
27
Upper East
Area
10
40
63
112
       
136
 
 
Yield
1.50
1.8
0.83
1.15
       
1.00
 
 
Production
15
72
53
129
       
136
 
Ghana
Area
713
150
193
329
726
287
262
265
254
102
 
Yield
1.31
2.03
0.77
0.81
12.34
12.34
6.43
7.52
1.01
0.62
 
Production
938
310
135
279
8 966
3547
1 688
1 995
258
63
* Empty cells indicate that the crop is not important in the region.

Source: Statistics, Research and Information Directorate (SRID), Ministry of Food & Agriculture, January 2002

3.3 Livestock and pasture

Livestock

Livestock - cattle, sheep, goats and poultry - were in good condition in mid-February, but the continuation of this good condition will depend on the availability of water and fodder in the coming weeks before the onset of the next cropping season. Localised outbreaks of CBPP (contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia) in Northern and Upper West Regions were reported but were successfully contained. In Upper East Region, livestock owners complained of high mortality rates among their small ruminants, caused by severe scouring after the first flush of grass following the arrival of the rains in May. Newcastle disease is still responsible for poultry losses in several localities despite the availability of vaccination against it. Unusually high levels of guineafowl losses were reported in some parts of Northern Region. Cattle rustling appears to be on the increase, especially in the border areas of Upper West Region. This obviously has an impact on the livelihood of several already food-insecure communities.

Pasture

By February 2002, pasture was rapidly becoming depleted in most northern areas but not to the extent that it was causing concern to livestock owners. Water supplies, however, were more worrying, with many areas reporting lower-than-normal levels at watering points for this time of year. If some rain falls during the month of April the situation should not be serious, but it might become so if the rains are delayed beyond the end of April.

4. AGRICULTURAL SITUATION BY REGION

4.1 Upper West

Rainfall in the east of Upper West Region (Sissala District) was generally better in 2001 than it was in 2000, when less than 600 mm were recorded at Tumu. Total rainfall in 2001 exceeded 800 mm. Despite a very slow start and a slightly earlier ending, rainfall in the east of the region was well distributed and continued into at least the first half of October. District crop production estimates reflected the better growing conditions. Since this is a cotton-growing area, several farmers were also able to divert some of their cotton fertiliser to their maize, and many, especially those who were able to plant early, reported yields in excess of 2 tonnes/ha.

In sharp contrast, Lawra District, in the extreme northwest of the region, had very poor production in 2001, with millet, maize and sorghum yields of only 0.4, 0.5 and 0.7 tonnes/ha. Lawra, which is a fairly densely populated district with very degraded soils of low fertility and poor moisture-retention properties, is normally a deficit producer, and any setback can have swifter repercussions than elsewhere. The situation is exacerbated by the serious loss of cattle as a result of rustling, to which the district, being beside the national border, is especially vulnerable. The paucity of cattle is evident from the relatively good pasture still available at a time when it is very much depleted elsewhere. The district also suffers from seasonal labour out-migration on a large scale. Although this usually results in money remittances to the district, it also means that there is often a shortage of labour for cultivation.

The region's average rice yield was well above the average for the previous four years (Table 4). Where grown, yams were said to have suffered on account of the slightly early ending of the rains (which usually continue into the second half of October in the yam-growing areas), but still the yields were above average. Cowpea, which is an important crop in the region with a harvested area of 53 000 ha in 2001, suffered yield reductions as a result of attacks by various insect pests; the vast majority of producers have no access to chemical crop protection. Groundnut area and yield were both well above average in 2001, and production, at 79 000 tonnes, was almost 15 percent above that of 2000.

Table 4. Upper West Region: Crop Production in 2001 compared to 1997-2000 Average

 
Area ('000 ha)
Yield (t/ha)
Production ('000 tonnes)
 
2001
Average
97-00
%
Change
2001
Average
97-00
2001
Average
97-00
%
Change
Maize
36
36
0.0
1.40
1.01
51
37
37.8
Sorghum
113
97
16.5
0.82
1.35
92
130
-29.2
Millet
65
60
8.3
0.64
1.01
42
60
-30.0
Rice
4
4
0.0
2.50
1.26
10
5
100.0
Groundnut
52
40
30.0
1.51
1.35
79
54
46.3
Cowpea
53
na
na
0.50
na
27
na
Na
Yam
24
20
20.0
11.87
10.48
283
211
34.1

Water for livestock was more depleted in most of the region in February than it would normally have been at that time of the year. Nevertheless, livestock condition was generally good.

4.2 Upper East

Agriculturally, the 2001 season was generally better for Upper East than for the other two regions. The region also benefits from its several dams and schemes, among them Tono, the largest irrigation dam in the country, which provides irrigation for about 1 500 ha of rice twice a year. Rice yields at Tono are fairly constant at between 4 and 4.5 tonnes/ha. Many dams have been rehabilitated in recent years, and more are in the process of being rehabilitated. Irrigation schemes have the associated advantage of being sources of fertiliser for small farmers, some of whom use it to a limited extent on both irrigated and rainfed crops.

The recent elimination of onchocerciasis along the Red Volta River has meant that more productive land has been made available for cultivation.

Small farmers in this region, especially those without access to irrigation, are highly dependent on early millet as a food to fill the gap before the main harvest. It is normally planted in late April or early May and harvested at the end of July. (Sorghum intercropped with it is allowed to continue until October.) The large area of sorghum planted in 2001 is partly attributable to the fact that late sowing of main-crop millet was also prevented by this dry spell. Sorghum was then planted on that land in July as it would, by then, have been too late to sow millet. Sorghum yields at an average of more than 1.1 tonnes/ha regionally were very satisfactory, and many farmers reported getting in excess of 2 tonnes/ha.

Armyworms attacked an area of millet and maize estimated at between 1 500 and 4 000 ha in the east of the region, mostly in Bawku East, in late May and June, causing significant reductions in productivity. Bawku East, which also suffers from exhausted soils and high population density, and where seasonal migration is common, is probably the most vulnerable of the region's districts in terms of food security. It is therefore a useful yardstick by which to gauge the severity of the season and it is interesting to note that 2001 was not regarded by the district as especially adverse.

Production of maize is comparatively new to the region. In 2001 it accounted for about 10 000 ha (excluding the area attacked by armyworm) and yielded relatively well at 1.5 tonnes/ha.

The early ending of the rains affected those main crops that had been planted late, with cereals suffering at grain-filling stage and groundnuts encountering hard, dry soil at pegging.

Table 5 shows the region's crop production data for 2001 and the average for 1997-2000. 2001 appears as a good year in general with groundnut, maize, millet and sorghum production higher than the average of the last four years. With the exception of rice, crop production was above the average for the preceding four years.

Table 5: Upper East Region - Crop Production in 2001 compared to 1997-2000 Average

 
Area ('000 ha)
Yield (tonnes/ha)
Production ('000
tonnes)
 
2001
Average
97-00
%
Change
2001
Average
97-00
2001
Average
97-00
%
Change
Maize
10
7
42.8
1.50
1.15
15
8
87.5
Sorghum
112
106
5.7
1.15
0.87
129
92
40.2
Millet
63
60
5.0
0.83
0.78
53
47
12.7
Rice
40
38
5.3
1.8
2.13
72
81
-11.1
Groundnut
136
87
56.3
1.00
0.9
136
79
72.1

The region's livestock situation appeared normal in February, but some concern was expressed about the sufficiency of water in the coming months. The most vulnerable district in this respect would appear to be East Bawku where livestock density is quite high.

4.3 Northern Region

Rainfall at the beginning of the farming season was poor in terms of both volume and distribution. This was followed in many districts by a period of drought which affected the germination of those crops already sown and hampered the planting of later crops. By late July, there was a resumption of normal seasonal rainfall, but in many districts this stopped in early September, giving way to a drought that lasted for the rest of the year. By the end of October, reductions in cereal and grain legume production were being anticipated as a result of poor pod-setting. On the other hand, since tuber formation had already occurred in cassava and yams before the end of the rains, yields of these crops were expected to be normal or above normal. Figure 2 shows total rainfall amounts for each district in 2000 and 2001. With the exception of East gonja and Zabzugu, all the other districts received less rainfall in 2001 than in 2000.

Undisplayed Graphic

Table 6 shows the region's crop production in 2001 and the average of 1997-2000. Three districts reported especially poor overall production in 2001 - East Mamprusi, West Mamprusi and Gushiegu/Karaga. Production in some parts of Tolon and Bole was also well below the regional average. These were areas that were hit by the poor start to the rains - many farmers had to replant several times and even then got negligible yields.

Table 6: Northern - Crop Production in 2001 compared to 1997-2000 Average

 
Area ('000 ha)
Yield (t/ha)
Production ('000 t)
 
2001
Average
97-00
%
Change
2001
Average
97-00
2001
Average
97-00
%
Change
Maize
104
110
-5.4
0.67
0.94
70
104
-32.7
Sorghum
99
106
-6.6
0.40
0.78
40
83
-51.8
Millet
64
66
-3.0
0.83
0.79
53
52
1.9
Rice
34
29
17.2
1.85
1.78
63
51
23.5
Groundnut
67
51
31.4
0.64
0.80
43
41
4.9
Cowpea
48
na
-
0.75
na
36
na
-
Yam
70
43
62.8
8.87
10.28
621
445
39.5
Cassava
52
na
-
7.35
na
382
na
-

Livestock condition appeared good throughout the region in February but concerns were expressed about the availability of fodder and water before the arrival of the 2002 rains. No livestock disease outbreaks were reported, apart from localised high mortality amongst guinea fowl.

5. FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION

5.1 Prices

Prices of grains in Ghana are subject to very strong seasonal fluctuations, particularly in the three northern regions. They fall sharply during the harvest period (August-October) and start rising from November until the end of the lean season (June-August).

In addition, inflation and the depreciation of the cedi had a direct effect on food prices in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions during 2000 and 2001. Prices of cereals during the marketing year 2000/01 reflected, to a large extent, the combined effect of devaluation and inflation. Figure 3 below shows how rice prices reacted to the devaluation of the cedi during marketing year 2000/01. The higher sensitivity of rice prices to exchange rate variations is due to the fact that almost 60 percent of consumption is covered by imports. Maize (and sorghum and millet) prices followed a similar pattern, but with a relative time lag (Figure 4).


Undisplayed Graphic

Undisplayed Graphic

However, since the beginning of this year, the prices of maize, millet and sorghum in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions have been rising in real terms (i.e. discounting the effect of inflation2) more strongly than in previous years mainly as a result of the crop reductions experienced in 2001.

In February 2002, the wholesale price of maize in Northern Region was Cedis 129 000 per 100 kg bag. This, in constant terms (deflating by Consumer Price Index) was 2 percent below the level at the same time in 2001. In the Upper East Region the wholesale price of maize in February 2002 was Cedis 149 000 per 100 kg bag. This was in real terms some 8 percent higher than at the same time last year. Prices of maize had the highest increase in real terms in the Upper West Region, where they were 20 percent higher in February 2002 than at the same time in the previous year. Prices of maize in Northern and Upper West have been converging around Cedis 130 000 per bag, which is very close to the wholesale prices that the Mission observed in Techiman (Brong Ahafo Region), the main grain trading center in Ghana. Active trading within the North of Ghana and from the south, helped to moderate the effect of the fall in production of maize in the Northern and Upper West Regions. Differences in prices of maize tend to be temporary as traders are constantly hedging between the different geographic markets, helping prices to converge. On the other hand, prices of millet and sorghum tend to vary more between the different regions as there is less active trading and prices respond more to local supply conditions.

Undisplayed Graphic

Millet, the preferred staple of the population in North of Ghana, experienced large real-price increases in early 2002 relative to the previous year. In the Northern Region the wholesale price of millet in February 2002 was at Cedis 154 000 per bag of 93 kg. This was, in real terms, 16 percent higher than in the same month of 2001. In the Upper East Region the price in February 2002 was at Cedis 169 000, some 17 percent higher than in the same month of 2001. The largest increase in price was experienced in Upper West, where in February 2002 the wholesale price of millet was Cedis 179 000 per bag, 40 percent higher than in the same month of 2001. It should be noted that in January and February 2002 there was a significant difference between the prices registered in the Northern Region and the other two regions. This may be the result of relatively higher preference in Upper East and Upper West for millet while consumers in the Northern Region seem to accept substitution with maize that trades at a relatively lower prices.

Undisplayed Graphic

In February 2002 the prices of sorghum in the Northern and Upper East Regions were Cedis 139 000 and 159 000 per bag of 109 kg, respectively. This was 6 percent and 9 percent higher than in the same period of 2001. Again, the Upper West Region showed a very large real-price increase as in February 2002 sorghum traded at Cedis 179 000, 30 percent higher than in February 2001. Price differences between the three regions were also very high showing a tighter supply/demand situation in Upper West and Upper East where sorghum is used both as a staple food and as an input into brewing local beer.

Undisplayed Graphic

By contrast, the wholesale prices of rice (milled in bags of 100 kg) in January and February 2002 in all three regions have been around 20 percent lower, in real terms, than the prices prevailing in the same period of 2001. This reflects three main factors:

· the increases in 2001 production in Upper East and Upper West
· the availability of imported supplies
· the fact that rice prices shot up with very large increases during the two previous marketing years as they responded quickly to the devaluation of the currency.

Undisplayed Graphic

Other staples like yams, groundnuts and cowpeas have also maintained very low increases or even reductions in real prices of Jan-Feb 2002 relative to the levels of the same period of 2001, reflecting their improved availability during the current marketing year.

Crop-livestock terms of trade

Consistent information concerning livestock prices was difficult to obtain because of the wide variation in weight and condition of the animals being traded. However, it appears that there has been a deterioration in the terms of trade of livestock in relation to grain in most, but not all, parts of the three regions, with grain prices increasing more rapidly than those of livestock over the period October 2001 - February 2002. This, though, appears to be normal for the time of the year.

5.2 Food Supply/Demand in 2002

Despite the poorer-than-average production of some crops in the three northern regions of the country in 2001, the general food supply/demand situation in Ghana is expected to remain relatively close to normal thanks to the good availability of grains in the other regions, the adequate availability of other food crops, the expected flow of commercial imports and the food aid pledges already received.

The mission estimated the food supply/demand balance for the country as a whole, based on the following assumptions and parameters:

Farmers in the three northern regions normally try, after the harvest, to keep a minimum level of stocks to carry them over until the next harvest. However, most farmers are unable to achieve this, as they find they must sell grain in order to pay for other urgent necessities like school fees and clothing, or to pay off debts or meet social obligations. In February 2002, the mission found that many farmers already had very low levels of stocks, which were often only sufficient to feed them until March or April.
In general, traders try to buy early in the marketing year (soon after the harvest, in October - November) when prices are at their lowest level, and resell later in the marketing year (mainly during the lean period (approximately March to August)) when prices reach their highest levels. However, most of them need to buy and sell throughout the marketing year since their main constraint is the scarcity of working capital to be able to keep stocks. Because of the large seasonal fluctuation in prices, traders tend to sell all their stock by the end of the marketing year, shortly before the beginning of the next harvest. Consequently, by the beginning of the marketing year the stocks in the hands of traders are negligible.

The Government of Ghana did not have grain stocks until the end of 2001 when the National Disaster Relief Organisation established agreements with private traders to purchase and store approximately 10 000 tonnes of maize from the 2001 harvest. The Government intends to continue building up this buffer stock for use in case of emergency or unusual price increases. Details about the management and criteria for the use of these stocks have not been released yet. It has been assumed that the Government may wish to use half of those stocks to stabilise prices in the north should this be considered necessary.

The Mission gathered evidence of a sizeable amount of exports of food, mostly maize and yams, to neighbouring countries, particularly Burkina Faso. There is no official registration of those exports. However, after consultation with traders and local officials, the Mission estimates that up to 25 000 tonnes of maize may be exported during this marketing year.

Table 7: Ghana - Cereal Supply/Demand Balance for 2002 (`000 tonnes)Population 2002: 19.4 million

 
Wheat
Rice
Maize
Sorghum
Millet
TOTAL CEREALS
OTHER CROPS 1/
2002 TOTAL SUPPLY
20.0
171.0
938.0
279.1
134.9
1 543.0
5 273.4
Opening Stocks
20.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
20.0
0.0
2001 Production (rice in milled)
0.0
171.0
938.0
279.1
134.9
1 523.0
5 273.4
2002 TOTAL UTILIZATION
223.9
346.1
991.6
283.5
159.1
2 004.2
4 755.1
Food Use
210.9
312.4
804.4
258.9
145.4
1 732.0
3 341.7
Feed Use
0.0
0.0
56.3
8.0
4.4
68.7
113.5
Seed Use
0.0
7.7
7.1
3.3
1.9
20.0
0.0
Waste
3.0
26.0
93.8
13.3
7.4
143.5
1 270.3
Exports
0.0
0.0
25.0
0.0
0.0
25.0
29.5
Closing Stocks
10.0
0.0
5.0
0.0
0.0
15.0
0.0
2002 IMPORT REQUIREMENTS (SURPLUS)
203.9
175.1
53.6
17.4
11.2
461.2
(518.3)
Pledged Food Aid
65.5
8.5
8.6
6.5
 
89.1
 
Anticipated Commercial Imports
138.4
166.6
45.0
10.9
11.2
372.1
 
Estimated per caput consumption (kg/year)
10.9
16.1
41.5
13.4
7.5
89.4
172.4
1/ Other crops include cowpeas, groundnuts, cassava, yam, cocoyam and plantains all of them expressed in cereal equivalent at the following conversion rates: cassava 0.3166; yam 0.2808; cocoyam 0.2808; plantains 0.2524; goundnuts 1.5552; cowpeas 0.9688.

Total cereal import requirements are estimated at 461 200 tonnes, including 203 900 tonnes of wheat, 175 100 tonnes of rice and 82 200 tonnes of coarse grains. Wheat and rice imports are expected to remain within the levels of recent years. There is an increase of approximately 30 000 tonnes in the import requirements of coarse grains relative to the level of imports of the last two years. Most of that increase corresponds to the reduction in the maize, sorghum and millet crops experienced in the northern regions. The increase in the import requirement of coarse grains is not considered exceptional at national level. In general terms and from the perspective of the national supply/demand balance, it is estimated that the reduced supplies of coarse grains in the northern regions will be covered by:

The projected food supply/demand balance in Table 7 indicates that there is a considerable surplus in the supply of other crops available to substitute at least in part for the reductions in the supply of cereals.

With food aid pledges already at 89 000 tonnes, the Mission estimates that the balance of the import requirement of 372 000 tonnes (138 000 tonnes of wheat, 167 000 tonnes of rice and 67 000 tonnes of coarse grains) will be covered by commercial imports. However, the food supply situation in the three northern regions is tight, particularly for households which lost a large part of their crops, and close monitoring of food prices will be necessary to detect further increases and the need for intervention.

6. EMERGENCY FOOD REQUIREMENTS

6.1 Nutritional Conditions

Despite variability in individual crop performance, the overall food outlook for 2002 in the three northern regions of Ghana is satisfactory. Localised variability in food production has been noted as reflected in 10 to 20 percent increase in current market prices relative to similar period a year ago. Erratic rains (delayed onset, moisture stress and early end of rains) reduced crop production. However, these reductions are not dramatic to bring about a large-scale shortfall in domestic consumption. Besides cereal production, the three northern regions also depend on production of roots and tubers, fruits, harvest forest foods, fishing and livestock, which supplement their nutritional intake. Communities in irrigated areas, particularly in Upper East Region, supplement their diets with vegetables.

The current nutritional condition of children, based on growth monitoring data maintained by District Health Units, remained relatively high for periods that immediately followed the harvest months. In Lawra district, rate of moderate malnutrition (60 to 80 percent of the median) was more than 28 percent in August (before harvest) and December 2001 (after harvest); and cases of severe malnutrition (<60 percent of the median) were 2 percent in December 2001. In Bole district 25 percent of moderate and 3 percent severe malnutrition cases were reported. Furthermore, the mission noted an underlying nutritional problem; Sissala district reports 52.8 percent of children stunted.

If the present trend of rising real grain prices continues nutritional intake of the most vulnerable population could further deteriorate, as they will be locked out of the market due to decreasing purchasing power.

6.2 Food Assistance Requirements

The mission's assessment of food aid need must be interpreted in the following context. First, the timing of assessment was unusual of joint WFP and FAO crop and food supply assessment missions. The assessment was done three months after crops were harvested, which presented a formidable challenge reconstructing performance of the growing season for 2001. Second, the mission's effort to reconstruct the seasonal condition from farmers' memory recall has been masked by `lean period' that existed at the time of the assessment. As the assessment coincided with the beginning of lean period for the regions (often March through August) interviewed households characteristically described harsh conditions of the lean period. Consistently, interviewed households and communities described their condition of "the hungry season" as less than average normal year.

Therefore, the mission acknowledges MOFA's estimates of 2001 production whereby 12.6 percent reduction for millet, 10 percent for maize, 5 percent for sorghum and 2 percent reduction for rice have been recorded compared to the 2000 production. The mission noted farmers' consistent description that the 2001 production was less than 2000 production. Market data is also used; a substantial grain price increases are noted, which is indicative of a decline of production in aggregate terms. As discussed above, nutritional indicators are used to corroborate any departure from normal consumption pattern for the population. All of these facts were taken into account to establish evidence for production/consumption shortfalls in the region.

Evidently, no emergency condition existed nationally or regionally; however, localised losses in production were recorded for Bole, Gushiegu/ Karaga, West Mamprusi and Lawra districts. Bole and West Mamprusi districts' total production fall short of their consumption requirement for a period of two months. An estimated three months consumption shortfall is calculated for Gushiegu/ Karaga and Lawra districts. The remaining districts in northern Ghana enjoyed a net surplus beyond their consumption requirements.

6.3 Targeting Food Assistance

Four districts are identified to experience production reduction and currently show increased levels of moderate malnutrition for children under the age of 24 months. Because of the combined evidence of consumption shortfall and increased moderate malnutrition a two-month food aid is recommended for the four districts, either in the form of emergency assistance or stepping up existing food aid activities with specific emphasis on the targeted districts. An estimated 30 to 35 percent of the districts' population are indicated for as vulnerable population based on the rate of moderate malnutrition. A total of 4 840 mt of food aid will have to be distributed for a duration of 60 days. The food assistance will have to be distributed in May and June to minimise further nutritional deterioration and liquidating productive assets.

Table 9. Districts to be targeted for food assistance

Region
District
Total population
Number to be assisted
Duration (days)
Cereals (tonnes)
Northern
Bole
138 603
40 000
60
1 250
 
Gushiegu/Karaga
135 003
47 000
60
1 420
 
West Mamprusi
124 754
38 000
60
1 120
Upper West
Lawra
87 617
35 000
60
1 050
Total
 
485 977
160 000
 
4 840

Operational NGOs in the region such as Action Aid, CRS, ADRA, TechnoServe, OICI, and WVI may wish to consider scaling up their activities particularly food security programmes, health and school feeding programmes.

The recommended food assistance will have to be targeted to most vulnerable populations in the four districts. In implementing the recommended food assistance to the affected districts, rigorous targeting exercise should be carried out in consultation with communities. Registration of beneficiaries and specific social and economic groups within the affected areas will have to be undertaken by the Government and other interested parties. Targeted assistance should provide priority to children, female-headed households, families who have under weight children, pregnant women and elderly persons not covered by existing social support systems.

Follow-up measures

In order to establish a sound and meaningful targeting of affected households, communities should be involved in identifying and defining households with the greatest need of food assistance for the duration. This would require an intensive consultation process and registration of beneficiaries.

Regular and seasonal condition will have to be monitored using indicators such as livestock and crop prices, terms of trade between small ruminants and selected grains, rainfall and range conditions for livestock feed.

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.

Office of the Chief

Mr. Holdbrook Arthur

GIEWS, FAO

Regional Director, ODY, WFP

Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495

Fax: 00237-223-5907

E-mail: giews1@fao.org

E-mail: Holdbrook.Arthur@wfp.org

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1 / Sources for this section include reports by the World Bank; the Economist Intelligence Unit; Government of Ghana Ministry of Finance and Bank of Ghana.

2 / The following analysis, unless otherwise stated, is based on prices that have been adjusted by inflation using the Consumer Price Index and expressed at the same level of prices as January 2002.

3 / The country harvested record cereal crops in 2001.