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A Country Case Study of Cassava Development in Ghana

Prepared by

Ministry of Food and Agriculture


Cassava is a major crop in the farming systems of Ghana. It is a main source of carbohydrates to meet the dietary requirement needs and a regular source of income for most rural dwellers and contributes substantially (22 percent) to the Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (AGDP).

Despite the introduction of cassava to Ghana in the 16th century and its substantial contributions to the livelihood of the populace, the crop has remained in obscurity and neglect. Burgeoning interest in the crop in recent times results from the realization of the potential of cassava as a food security and emergence crop which could generate employment for the rural poor and foreign exchange for the country. Since 1990, the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, has demonstrated its determination and commitment to promote cassava for the alleviation of poverty particularly in rural households and communities.

Apart from hosting the Ninth Symposium of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC) in Accra in 1991 and national workshops held on the crop in 1992 and 1993, the Government ensured that modest support was always allocated for the promotion of the production, processing and marketing of cassava under various relevant projects and programmes being implemented under the Medium-Term Agricultural Programme (MTADP). A National Cassava Working Group and a Cassava Task Force were inaugurated in 1995/96. These were followed by the participation of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), in conjunction with the private sector, in the recent Industry and Technology Fair dubbed “INDUTECH 97” held in Accra in March/April 1997 with the exhibition on cassava being adjudged the best stand at the fair. Related to these official initiatives, there has been research and development focus on cassava from several NGOs and bilateral partners in Ghana.

IFAD's initiative regarding a Global Cassava Development Strategy offers a unique opportunity for Ghana to develop the production, processing and marketing of cassava as a food security crop and a commercial crop for rural employment generation for the improvement of income for resource poor farmers and the national economy.

The IFAD guidelines for the preparation of country case studies for the formulation and execution of the Global Cassava Development Strategy specified a four-member team from each participating country. However, in view of time constraint, the following persons who have been associated with the cassava industry of Ghana were invited to contribute information for the preparation of the Ghana Cassava Case Study: Mr E.V. Doku and Mr (Mrs) Ramatu Al-Hassan, University of Ghana, Legon; Mr J.J. Afuakwa, Crops Research Institute, Kumasi, Mr D. Pessey, Transport and Commodity General, Donkokrom; Mr R.K. Noamesi, Glucosett Ghana Ltd., Accra and Mr W. Amoa-Awuah, Food Research Institute, Accra. The contributions of these colleagues for the preparation of the case study and their responsiveness to meetings at short notice is appreciated. The technical and secretarial support offered by Messrs N. Neequaye and J. Osei-Wusu and Ms Nada Dwomoh of the Department of Crop Services, MOFA, Accra, is also appreciated.

It is hoped that the Ghana Cassava Case Study would contribute immensely to the Global Cassava Development Strategy initiated by IF AD.

Mr Francis Ofori
Director of Crop Services
Ministry of Food and Agriculture


The terms of reference (TOR) of the Ghana Cassava Cast Study were:

“To analyse the past and present situation of cassava in Ghana, with a view to describing the lessons learned from past development interventions and their implications for a strategy for future investment in cassava research and development”.

The following were the key elements of the TOR:

  1. A description of the evolution of cassava development in Ghana, which includes the identification of significant interventions that have influenced evolution, including;

    1. Trends in cassava production and utilization from 1986 to date in Ghana and by major cassava producing regions within Ghana.

    2. Major interventions, both at national and regional level, that have influenced the evolution of the cassava sector, including, for example;

      1. Changes in the development model adopted by the country (e.g. from a model of import substitution to a model of trade liberalization);

      2. Changes in import, pricing or credit policies for cassava or competing commodities;

      3. Investment in infrastructure and services to promote rural development and/or the development of the crop (both service infrastructure, roads, storage facilities, etc. and processing infrastructure).

  2. An analysis of the success and failures (or limitations) of the interventions identified above in removing the constraints to and/or realizing the opportunities for the development of the crop. Criteria for analysing the relative success of each intervention might, depending on the information available, include:

  3. Derived from the above-mentioned analysis, an enumeration of the lessons learned from past experiences.

  4. A synthesis of the implications for a future strategy for cassava development in Ghana.


The Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), accepted the invitation from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to prepare a case study on cassava as part of IFAD's initiative regarding the development of the Global Cassava Development Strategy. This case study on cassava was prepared in eight weeks, by a cross-section of Ghanaians who are currently engaged in the crop and were supported with information from relevant institutions/organizations, the private sector, farmers and NGOs that are contributing to the development of the crop as food security and commercial crop with many industrial applications in the country.

The case study recognizes cassava as an important crop in Ghana. Although attempts were made to develop cassava in the 1930s after its introduction from Brazil in the 16th century, past government policies marginalized the crop in favour of export crops and maize. Earlier research efforts focused attention on the selection for high yields, low HCN content and excellent cooking qualities and subsequently breeding for improved pest and disease resistance. There was limited information on husbandry practices for the realization of high yields of selected varieties. However, effective programmes were put into place to check the spread of diseases including the Cassava Mosaic Virus Disease (CMVD), Cassava Bacterial Blight (CBB) and pests such as cassava mealybug and cassava green spider mite. Since 1984, a biological control programme has been established by MOFA for the control of major pests of cassava. The remarkable achievements of the biological control programme being implemented by a multidisciplinary team is developing, testing and adapting sustainable cassava plant protection technologies in Ghana under the ESCaPP (Ecologically Sustainable Cassava Plant Protection) project.

In 1988, the National Root and Tuber Crops Improvement Project (NTRCIP) was launched as a component of the IFAD sponsored Ghana Smallholder Rehabilitation and Development Programme (SRDP) and in collaboration with IITA, three improved cassava varieties were released to farmers in 1993. This effort is being complemented by the implementation of various activities on cassava under the National Agricultural Research Project (NARP) including; crop improvement, agronomy, integrated pest management, post-harvest management, processing and socio-economic studies by several research institutions and universities.

The study also covers post-production aspects of cassava such as processing into various forms, utilization and interventions that had been introduced for processing of cassava into marketable and acceptable forms. It is clearly evident that cassava has not receive adequate support for the realization of its potential as a food security and commercial crop with many industrial applications in Ghana.

The launching of the Medium-Term Agricultural Development Project (MTADP) in 1991 by MOFA and government policies thereafter have contributed to the realization of the importance of cassava in Ghana. Some of the programmes and projects being implemented under the MTADP provide modest support for research on the development of high yielding and pest and disease resistant varieties. Since launching of the NARP, the production, processing and socio-economic aspects are being investigated by relevant research institutions.

The establishment of an export led industry in cassava chips for export and the local livestock industry by a private company, Transport and Commodity General, has also increased interest in the crop in most parts of Ghana in recent times.

Finally, the study reveals positive impact of cassava on equity (including gender) with women mainly responsible for processing and marketing, with minimum damage to the environment. It is clearly evident that the provision of the adequate support for the development of improved varieties for the varied agro-ecological zones, the supply of adequate planting materials, research and extension support, improvement in the traditional method of harvesting, promotion of processing into various forms such as chips, pellets, starches, flours and for industrial applications and elimination of constraints to market development would expand the current output of cassava. This would accord cassava the recognition of contributing adequately to the economy of Ghana through food security, poverty alleviation and application for several uses.



Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) was introduced from Brazil, its country of origin, to the tropical areas of Africa, the Far East and the Caribbean Islands by the Portuguese during the 16th and 17th centuries (Jones, 1959). In the Gold Coast (now Ghana), the Portuguese grew the crop around their trading ports, forts and castles and it was a principal food eaten by both Portuguese and slaves. By the second half of the 18th century, cassava had become the most widely grown and used crop of the people of the coastal plains (Adams, 1957). The Akan name for cassava 'Bankye' could most probably be a contraction of 'Aban Kye' - Gift from the Castle.

The spread of cassava from the coast into the hinterland was very slow. It reached Ashanti (and Brong Ahafo) and northern Ghana, mainly around Tamale in 1930. Until the early 1980s, the Akans of the forest belt preferred plantain and cocoyams and sorghum and millet in the north. Cassava became firmly established in most areas after the serious drought of 1982/83 when all other crops failed completely (Korang-Amoakoh, Cudjoe and Adams, 1987). Cassava and its various preparations including fufu, gari and konkonte are now very popular foods throughout Ghana and not only in the coastal regions, as was the case some 20 years ago.

Prior to 1981, declining trends in agricultural production largely accounted for the downward economic situation experienced at different times in the country. During the period, food crop production and marketing, including cassava, were marginalized relative to the production of export crops and food imports. The occasional government interventions in the production and marketing of agricultural commodities under crash programmes were geared to respond to specific demands and situations.

Recognizing the low growth in the national economy, an Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) was initiated in 1983 to reverse the declining trends in major contributors to the economy such as agriculture. The bold policies initiated under the ERP resulted in the reversal of the downward decline in the production of major food crops including cassava. Under the ERP, an Agricultural Services Rehabilitation Project (ASRP) was launched in 1987 to strengthen the capacity of the public sector to support research, extension services, irrigation, policy planning, monitoring and coordination and to make the required investments for expanded agricultural production.

In order to consolidate and sustain the gains of the agricultural sector under the ERP, a rolling ten-year Medium-Term Agricultural Development Programme (MTADP) was launched in 1991 with emphasis inter alia on efficient resource allocation, the attainment of food security and abundant food supply for the people at affordable prices. For the attainment of the objectives of MTADP, various projects and programmes are being implemented with donor support for improvement of the food crop subsector; these include, the National Agricultural Research Project (NARP), the National Agricultural Extension Project (NAEP), the Agricultural Diversification Project (AGDIV) and the Agricultural Sector Investments Project (ASIP). As part of the measures towards sustainable development, the Vision 2020 was launched in 1996 as the Government's blue print for long-term sustainable development of various sectors of the economy based on science and technology.


The importance of cassava is confirmed in terms of crop area, total production, contribution to Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (AGDP) and food expenditure shares (Alderman and Higgens, 1992). The average area planted to cassava which was about 387 000 ha in 1986 increased to 590 000 ha in 1996. During the same periods, cassava production also increased from about 2.9 million tonnes to 7.11 million tonnes (Figure 1 and Appendices 1 and 2). Cassava is by far the largest agricultural commodity produced in Ghana and represents 22 percent of AGDP compared to 5 percent for maize, 2 percent for rice, sorghum and millet, 14 percent for cocoa, 11 percent for forestry, 7 percent for fisheries and 5 percent for livestock (Al-Hassan, 1989; Dapaah, 1996).

The number of households engaged in cassava production also measures its importance. According to the 1987/88 Ghana Living Standards Surveys (GLSS), 1.73 million sampled households (83 percent) were engaged in cassava production compared to 1.74 million (86 percent) in maize production. By 1988/89, the GLSS recorded a one percent decline in the number of sampled households engaged in cassava production, with a corresponding one percent increase in maize producing households. The presentation of data from the 1991/92 GLSS III survey differs slightly from the report of the earlier surveys so it is not possible to track the trends in numbers of households engaged in the production of cassava and maize. The GLSS surveys, however, appear to be recording a declining percentage, albeit small, of households growing cassava relative to those growing maize.

Figure 1. Trends in cassava production and productivity

Figure 1

Nevertheless, according to the GLSS report, cassava is grown extensively in all the ecological zones represented in the sample. Earlier data sources however indicated negligible cassava production in the two Upper Regions (Al-Hassan, 1989). The apparent spread of cassava into the Upper Regions, especially Upper West, is a reflection of the growing trend in cassava production through area expansion. The MTADP reports of a rapid spread of cassava in the Guinea Savannah zone since the famine of 1983 (MOA, 1990).

In addition, survey data on farmers' perception of trends in cassava production in their villages presented in Prudencio and Al-Hassan (1994) show a growing trend in cassava production in 93 percent of the 30 villages in the survey. The most common reasons given for the increasing production are population growth (50 percent) and famine (21 percent) (COSCA, 1990, unpublished data). This suggests that farmers are using cassava to improve long-term food security as well as hedge against intermittent food shortages.

The village surveys also suggest that prior to 1989/90, when the survey was conducted, cassava production increased more through area planted to the crop (by displacing fallow land or other crops) than by increasing yields (Table 1).

Table 1. Sources of cassava area expansion

CropsDisplacedPercent of Villages
Fallow 27
Cocoyam 23
Yam 13
Plantain 13
Cereals 11
Other 13

Source: Collaborative Study of Cassava in Africa (1990).

4.2.1 Crop related factors

4.2.2 Farmers' local varieties

In the traditional bush-fallow system, some cassava plants are always left to grow with the fallow which is long enough to enable the cassava to flower and set seed. The natural out crossing habit of cassava leads to the production of numerous new hybrid combinations from self-sown seed from which farmers select and propagate desirable types. By this process, pools of new local varieties are continuously created which are adapted to the different agro-ecological zones of the country. In 1930, there were over 30 such named local varieties and by 1960 the number had increased to over 90 (Doku, 1969). As these selections are made on account of their excellent cooking qualities, low HCN content and high yields, they are used as parents in breeding programmes mainly to improve pest and disease resistance. To help identify these local varieties readily, Doku (1996) provided detailed descriptions of 91 varieties based on branching habit, height, petiole colour and inner skin colour of tuber, amongst others. Cassava varieties are not easily identified in the field and it is not clear to what extent the Doku's classification has been applied in identifying varieties. The possibility that varieties planted by farmers are still very mixed is very high indeed and there is an urgent need to develop rigorous but easily applicable procedures of varietal identification in the field.

Farmers' cropping systems

In addition to the selection of suitable varieties, farmers also evolved cropping systems in the form of rotations and crop mixtures suitable for the various agro-ecological zones in which they operate, generally in the following sequence: maize - legume (cowpea) maize/cassava - fallow (Doku, 1967). With fallow periods drastically decreasing in the wake of population pressure on farm land, agronomic investigations are urgently needed to develop appropriate systems of soil fertility maintenance. Farmers do not apply fertilizers owing to the high cost and cassava yields vary from 5 tonnes/ha to 25 tonnes/ha or more, depending on soil fertility.

Development of improved varieties

Between 1928 and 1962, the Department of Agriculture was responsible for cassava research and extension in Ghana. Since 1962, research institutions under the CSIR and the universities have been responsible for cassava research. In contrast to the unconscious selection by farmers, systematic breeding and selection which started in 1930 have been carried out mainly to improve pest and disease resistance and yields of the local varieties.

The Cassava Mosaic Virus Disease (CMVD) was first observed around 1930 and was considered serious enough to merit attention, as all existing local varieties were severely affected. This first government intervention involved the introduction of varieties from other West African countries, East Africa, the Caribbean and the Far East. Several crosses were made between the locals and these introductions followed by selections for desirable types. Four outstanding varieties namely Queen, Gari, Williams and Ankrah were released in 1935. These were high yielding (7–10 tonnes/ha), of good taste, highly resistant to CMVD and were grown widely throughout the country. However, by the late 1950s either due to increased virulence of the virus, a breakdown in varietal resistance or purity, all the newly released varieties except Ankrah became highly susceptible, necessitating a second breeding intervention for CMVD resistance.

The second intervention involved crosses between the local varieties and four other species closely related to M. esculenta, since it has been shown that no resistance could be found in any M. esculenta variety. Work with the interspecific crosses went on throughout the mid 1950s to mid 1960, out of which four selections K357, K162, K680 and K491 were released to farmers. The best K680, yielded around 19 tonnes/ha, had moderate resistance to CMVD with good palatability and cooking quality. These varieties were widely cultivated and maintained their good characteristics until the late 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s when a third intervention had to be sought to obtain varieties resistant to two new pests (cassava mealybug and cassava green spider mite) and a new disease, Cassava Bacterial Blight (CBB), in addition to CMVD.

Biological control of cassava pests and introduction of improved varieties from IITA

The third intervention was triggered by the drought of 1982/83 which aggravated the effects of the cassava pests and diseases. Government requested assistance from FAO which came in the form of a consultancy provided by IITA. The objectives of the consultancy included:

Biological control of the cassava pests - mealybug and green spider mite started in March 1984 with the introduction of a parasitoid wasp (Epidinocarsis lopezi) and predatory insects (Diomus sp. and two Hyperdspis spp). In March 1985, a second batch of the natural enemies together with one more predatory lacewing insect (Sympherobius sp) and predatory mites Neoseiulus idaeus and N. anonymus were introduced.

Mechanization trials

For large-scale farms, mechanization of planting and harvesting are very necessary but there have not been any major interventions. Field trials in early 1960 at Pokuase Agricultural Station of semi-mechanized planting (persons sitting on low platform behind a tractor doing the planting) which could ridge and plant six rows at a time, showed that an acre could be ridged and planted in one operation in 2 hours 10 minutes instead of Oman days for planting alone. A mid-mounted disc terracer could also harvest one acre in two and a half hours for which five person-days were normally required (Doku, 1969). The preponderance of small farms has no doubt been responsible for the lack of interest so far shown in the mechanization of cassava planting and harvesting. However, with the appearance of export-driven large-scale farms, interest is bound to arise in the mechanization of planting and harvesting of cassava.

Fertilizer trials

Quite a number of fertilizer trials has been carried out mainly at the Soil Research Institute, but the results have yet to be developed into definite recommendations (Ofori, 1970, 1973, 1976; Takyi, 1972, 1974; Cobbina and Thompson, 1987). However, as cassava is usually intercropped or is the last crop in the rotation before the fallow, the crop most likely benefit from the residuals of fertilizers applied to the companion or preceding crops. Farmers also generally believe that fertilizers reduce the quality of cassava tubers, cooking quality and storage. The late start of agronomic research particularly on rotations and chemical fertilizer applications can have serious implications for fertility maintenance, resulting in soil degradation if recommendations and their adoption are delayed for too long. It is apparent that more work should be done on the effects of fertilizers in order to arrive at firm recommendations, especially for large-scale farms.

The National Root and Tuber Crops Improvement Project (NRTCIP)

The increasing importance of root crops, cassava in particular, in the economy of Ghana led government to enter into a bilateral agreement with IF AD leading to the implementation of the Ghana Smallholder Rehabilitation and Development Programme (SRDP). The SRDP was to ensure food security by providing the needed inputs, resuscitating essential infrastructure and strengthening institutional capacity for research and delivery of essential production services. The National Root and Tuber Crops Improvement Project (NRTCIP) which took off in 1988 was a component of SRDP (Kissiedu and Okoli, 1988). Its aims were to:

For cassava, work carried out included continuation of the biological control programme for the mealybug and green spider mite [carried out by the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Department of MOFA, in collaboration with IITA and later from 1989, a multi-disciplinary effort involving Benin, Cameroon and Nigeria]. Collection and testing of local germplasm alongside improved IITA varieties [carried out by Crop Research Institute, CSIR]. The SRDP project ended in 1995 but the NRTCIP continues to receive some funding under the succeeding project, the Smallholder Agricultural Development Project (SADEP) born out of SRDP.

The National Agricultural Research Project (HARP)

In 1991, the Government launched a National Agricultural Research Project (HARP), with the assistance of the World Bank, as a long-term process to strengthen Ghana's agricultural research system. The project is generating improved technologies to contribute to national development objectives and growth in the agricultural sector. Emphasis is being given to the development of processes and institutional arrangements to ensure that research priorities accord with national development priority, the needs of farmers and the sustainable use of the country's natural resource base. Among components of the NARP is support for the National Agricultural Research Plan and selected research programmes. The Root and Tuber Crops Research Programme of the NARP is being coordinated by the Crops Research Institute (CRI) and currently undertaking the following activities on cassava:

Crop improvement


Integrated pest management

Product development


Collaborating institutions of the Root and Tuber Crops Research Programme of the NARP are:

The programme also collaborates with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in the exchange of germplasm and training of research and technical staff.

Funding for the NRTCIP has been as follows: SRDP: 1988–1994 - US$222 897; NARP: 1993–1996; US$550 000 budgeted for a three-year root crop-based farming systems research. Out of the budget, US$90 000 has so far been released for various research activities under the Root and Tuber Crops Research of the NARP.

4.2.3 Post-harvest issues

Cassava tubers are highly perishable and begin to deteriorate two to three days after harvesting. Unfortunately apart from delayed harvesting there are no effective methods available for prolonged storage of the tubers. Therefore, post-harvest handling of the root crop is extremely important. Approximately, 30 percent of cassava produced is consumed by the producers, whilst the rest is sold on markets and a large proportion of this is processed into various indigenous products such as gari, agbelima and kokonte.


Processing of cassava into various shelf-stable and semi-stable products is a widespread activity carried out by traditional cassava processors and small-scale commercial processing units. The traditional methods for processing cassava involve combinations of different unit processes including peeling, grating, dehydration, dewatering, sifting, fermentation, milling and roasting. The major products are agbelima, gari and kokonte. During processing, the cassava tuber is transformed from a highly perishable root crop into a convenient, easily marketable, shelf-stable product which meets consumer demand for a staple food. Processing may improve the palatability of the product and also reduce the level of cyanogenic glucosides in the tuber thereby detoxifying the product. Products fermented by some species of lactic acid bacteria such as agbelima and gari may attain anti-microbial properties.

Several problems are encountered during traditional processing which have created an urgent need for mechanization and upgrading of processing. Operations are often uneconomical because the product is not properly costed; for instance, there is heavy reliance on family labour which is not perceived as cost. Operations are carried out on a very small-scale and the areas of manufacture may be unorganized and scattered. The processing procedures are labour intensive and time consuming and mostly carried out manually. Operations are not adequately mechanized because processors cannot afford equipment and do not have access to capital. Processing is often carried out under unhygienic conditions and some unsanitary practices such as improper effluent disposal during the dewatering of cassava mash have adverse effect on the environment. Some operations such as the roasting of gari on open fires present a risk to the health of the processors. Products may be of inconsistent organoleptic and microbiological quality because no formal quality system is applied during processing to assure the quality of the product. There is rudimentary packaging of products.


The role of cassava in the Ghanaian diet also confirms the importance of the root crop. Cassava is extensively consumed as food either in the processed or unprocessed form and is a major source of dietary carbohydrate constituting 19 percent of dietary energy intake averaging 380 Kal/day per person (Dosoo and Amoa-Awua, 1992). Out of a total of 5 775 million tonnes of cassava produced in 1993, 1 798 million tonnes, representing 29.92 percent, were consumed by farmers whilst 4.84 percent was sold in the village and 36.89 percent outside the village (Antwi, 1994). In that year, cassava produced and processed into gari was 0.1611 million tonnes representing 12.74 percent, 0.163 million tonnes representing 9.89 percent were processed into agbelima, 1.07 percent into kokonte and 0.6 percent into cassava chips.

Interventions for processing

The major intervention in cassava processing was the introduction of a medium-scale motorized cassava grater by the Agricultural Engineers Ltd in 1966. The cassava grater presented a great innovation in cassava processing since grating is central to traditional processing of cassava in Ghana. Since then, several equipment manufactures including engineering firms, research institutes, university departments, small-scale artisanal shops, blacksmiths and mechanics have developed and produce various types of cassava processing equipment. Cassava processing machinery manufactured locally are drum graters, horizontal disc graters, cassava chippers, screw presses, hydraulic presses, cassava dough disintegraters, sieving machines, grading machines, plate mills, hammer mills and mechanical dryers.

Over the past three decades there has been a gradual but steady increase in the adoption of cassava processing equipment in the cassava processing industry. The adoption of mechanized cassava processing appears to have escalated in recent years through assistance provided by non-governmental organizations to various local communities.

In the last few years, the export of cassava chips has been introduced into the country through the activities of a private company, the Transport and Commodity General Ltd. This activity which is promoted by the Government is being explored actively by several potential exporters and it is envisaged in the foreseeable future that cassava may be considered as a cash crop rather than as a food crop.

The processing of cassava is a widespread and important activity in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy. Strides have been made in recent years towards upgrading and adopting a mechanized approach to cassava processing but there are constraints to the adoption of the technologies which need to be addressed. The export of cassava chips is offering new opportunities to the cassava processing industry.

4.2.4 Socioeconomic policy evolution and interventions

Development strategies and policy changes

Development strategies and policy changes in Ghana and their influences on the development of cassava are indicated below.

•   Immediate post-independence period

The development strategy adopted by Ghana after independence in 1957 was that of rapid industrialization with a strong bias for import substitution. The rapid industrialization policy aimed to shift employment away from agriculture. This was to be achieved by raising the productivity of farming to such levels that larger numbers of farmers could be released to work in other occupations (GoG, 1964). As the productivity of those who remained in agriculture increased, their earnings would also increase leading to further growth of the industrial sector through consumption linkages. Within this strategy, Government was to maintain a high level of participation in production to support its socialist policies with respect to distribution and utilization of national income.

The policy for the agricultural sector was to concentrate on a limited number of commodities and apply to them all available agricultural knowledge and technology. The development of research of human resources was also to be specific to the development of these commodities. The selected commodities were cereals and fish to fill the nutritional requirements, cocoa to improve the balance of payment situation and rice and sugar for both domestic consumption and export. Clearly, the development strategy at that time had no role for cassava as a crop; neither did the crop benefit from a general intervention in relevant farming systems because of lack of support to the small farm sector.

The period 1966 to the early 1980s was marked by political instability and therefore lack of continuity of policies. Changes in government often meant a redefinition of policies to address pressing issues of the time. Hence, the period 1966 to 1970 was characterized by austerity measures to stabilize the economy as well as re-orient governance away from a command system, and the development strategy away from rapid industrialization and public participation in production. Incentives were given for private enterprise development. To further encourage foreign investment, the Cedi was devalued by about 43 percent (Stryker, 1990); imports were liberalized with a reduction of import duties on a number of essential commodities.

•   Five-year development plan (1975–76 – 1979–80)

By the mid 1970s, there was concern over the 'openness of the economy' because of a high marginal propensity to import as expressed in the Five-year Development Plan (GoG, 1977). Other issues of concern in the Five-year Development Plan were the high rates of unemployment and inflation. The thrust of policy at the time was the management of the balance of payments. The strategy was to cut back on imports of raw materials and capital inputs (GoG, 1977). This resulted in the birth of the Operation Feed Yourself and Operation Feed Your Industries programmes, which placed agriculture in the centre of the development strategy.

The following cassava programme was specified under the Five-year Development Plan (GoG, 1977):

This was probably the first official expression of recognition of a role for cassava in the ghanaian economy. Unfortunately, the plans did not materialize because of the economic crisis of the late 1970s and political instability. Agricultural policies on the food crops subsector have tended to favour grains to the neglect of non-grain starch staples. For example, Government intervened in grain marketing and pricing with parastatals such as Grains Marketing Board and Food Distribution Corporation to operate guaranteed minimum prices. Government also sought to encourage production through the provision of subsidized inputs, machinery and credit. The subsidy on compound fertilizer increased from 49 percent in 1970 to a peak of 86 percent in 1975. It then declined to 58 percent in 1977 and increased again to 68 percent in 1984. These subsidies favoured large-scale cereal-based farmers (Stryker, 1990).

•   Economic recovery programme and structural adjustment programme (1983 to date)

More recent changes in Ghana's economic and agricultural policies have favoured the development of the cassava subsector. The Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) followed by the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which were initiated in 1983 and 1986, respectively, introduced macroeconomic policies to favour trade and private enterprise. A flexible exchange rate system and trade liberalization are the major macroeconomic policies that have affected the development of the cassava subsector. The depreciation of the cedi under the flexible exchange rate policy has made exports of commodities in which Ghana has comparative advantage more competitive. Trade liberalization, while encouraging exports has also opened the economy to an influx of foreign goods. Uncontrolled food imports could pose a threat to domestic production by causing a shift in tastes away from local foods such as cassava.

The advantages of the trade and exchange rate reforms for cassava have been the entry of Ghana into the cassava chip export market, particularly to the European Union. The timing of reforms has coincided with a decrease in export supplies of chips from Thailand and other East Asian countries which have traditionally dominated the cassava export trade. Ghana's exports of chips have increased from less than 3 000 tonnes in 1994 to about 20 000 tonnes in 1996 (Table 2). Until its entry into the cassava chip export market, formal trade in cassava was only of gari to Europe and North America. The average recorded trade volume was about 50 tonnes over the period 1985 to 1988 (Al Hassan, 1989). However, there has always been an unrecorded informal cross-border trade of cassava between Ghana and its neighbours. A recent study of the effect of the CFA devaluation on cassava in Ghana shows that the flexible exchange policy of Ghana limited the competitiveness of cassava products from Togo even with the CFA devaluation, thereby resulting in increased exports of gari and cassava dough by traders (Al-Hassan et al. 1996).

Table 2. Exports of cassava chip by T&CG

Volume (tonnes)2 4233 32220 000
Value (US$)242 300332 2002 000 000

Source: Transport and Commodity General, Accra

Under the MTADP, agricultural growth is expected to have a significant impact on poverty alleviation and food security by increasing the level of incomes of smallholders through higher productivity and employment as well as lowering food costs through improvements in marketing efficiency. The strategy for agricultural development includes, among others, expansion in demand by accessing export markets and diversifying exports, which could lead to both expansion and import substitution. The strategy for the crop sector is to increase production through productivity increases and area expansion.

The development of the cassava trade is therefore in line with this medium-term goal. Apart from the foreign exchange earnings, cassava chip processing has provided additional employment opportunities, especially during the off-farming season, for farmers in the buying areas. It is estimated that the processing of one tonne of chips generates 20 person days of labour (Ms Atenka, Processing Equipment Manufacturer, Accra, pers. comm.).

The strategy to increase productivity has led to a modest improvement in research funding under the National Agricultural Research Programme (HARP). Under this programme, allocation of research funds to roots and tubers, including cassava has increased to US$550 000 (for three years). To support the dissemination of research findings, a National Agricultural Extension Project is also being implemented as an off shoot of the MTADP. The reform in extension services is to improve efficiency in delivery and relevance of extension services. A major thrust to improve infrastructure supporting agriculture has also been launched under the ASIP. Under the project, the following investments have been made since 1993: Processing - US$49 560; Road Development - US$1.64 million; and Market Development US$6.4 million.

A Village Infrastructure Project (VIP) will be launched in 1997 to complement ASIR. The VIP would support the effort of the Government to reduce poverty and increase the quality of life of the rural poor through increased transfer of technical and financial resources to develop basic and sustainable village-level infrastructure. The components of the project include rural transport infrastructure which would inter alia support improvement of existing feeder roads and the development of arterial village trials and tracks linking farms to villages for the improvement of transport of agricultural produce including cassava. It would also support the development of on-farm and village level drying facilities to reduce post-harvest losses, on-farm storage and appropriate facilities for processing of crops such as cassava.

This account of policy changes and interventions shows that until the late 1980s there was little, if any, policy intervention in support of the cassava subsector. Whatever attention the crop received was through individual research and private entrepreneurs. Yet the crop has spread across the country to all but the Sudan Savannah Zone of the Upper East Region. The factors causing this spread are related to the adaptability of the crop and its integration into the food and farming systems (Appendix 3).

Although the food security role of cassava is widely attributed to its availability during times of food shortages, the crop has increasingly become an important source of cash income. Results of the 1992/93 Ghana Living Standards Survey show that out of the 1.7 million households who reported harvesting cassava two weeks prior to the interview day, 16 percent reported selling the crop over the same period. It is interesting to note that the estimated value of cassava sold by the 16 percent of households was US$32.2 million cedis, which compares well with the US$41.4 million realized by 55 percent of maize producing households who sold the crop. It should also be noted that since cassava can be processed for sale, households harvesting but not selling fresh roots may be processing the harvests and not necessarily consuming it.

The main reasons for expansion of cassava are population growth, famines or seasonal hunger and market availability. The COSCA data also show that cassava production is increasing almost everywhere in Ghana and the factors causing this spread in different areas are demographic pressure, good market demand, commercialization of agriculture and improved cassava processing technology.

The cassava subsector has enjoyed significant yield increases since the late 1980s. The national average yield of about 8 tonnes/ha in 1988 has increased to about 12 tonnes/ha. Average yields recorded in 1991 during the COSCA surveys was already 12 tonnes/ha with a range between 6 tonnes and 37 tonnes/ha. It is expected that current yields will far exceed the 12 tonnes/ha as a result of interventions such as the release of improved cassava varieties research institutions and the universities and the intensive biological control of the cassava mealy bug and cassava green mite by MOFA. The high yields of the 1990s are still below the potential yields of most cassava varieties.

The determinants of cassava yields at the farm level are presented in Appendix 4. It is important to note that apart from the climate and agronomic factors (plant density and plant age at harvest), socioeconomic factors such as population density, sales level and use of hired labour in farming, affect the yields of cassava. The negative relationship between population density and cassava root yield is also an important result considering the fact that growing population density is also one of the reasons for the spread of cassava.



Although the many excellent attributes of cassava (such as tolerance to drought and poor soils, easy-to-grow famine reserve/food security crop, poverty alleviation in rural communities) have been recognized for several decades in Ghana, there have been limited government interventions to guide the development of the crop until very recently. Even in the early 1980s when the Government started to address the agricultural sector more seriously, policy still favoured the cereals - maize and rice, the old time favourites, in the form of guaranteed minimum prices, subsides on fertilizers and agro-chemicals. However, after the very severe drought during 1982/83 when the superiority of cassava over the cereals was glaringly demonstrated, the Government started taking action through a series of bilateral and World Bank agreements in agricultural development as a vehicle for economic growth. The agricultural development policies filtered down through root crops to cassava.

In 1988, the Government sought financial assistance from IFAD to support root and tuber crops research as a component of MOFA's Smallholder Rehabilitation and Development Programme (SRDP) based at Tamale. The National Root and Tuber Crops Improvement project (NRTCIP) that resulted as a component of SRDP, was executed by the Crops Research Institute (CRI) from 1988 to 1996. As the MAD funding was inadequate to cover all root crop activities, attention was given to cassava improvement and biological control of cassava pest. Currently, the World Bank sponsored NARP project is funding cassava research as part of the NRTCIP and the biological control is being handled under ESCaPP.


5.2.1 Improved variety

5.2.2 Crop production

Three improved clones of cassava were selected as higher yielding than local varieties and tolerant to local pests and disease as well as having acceptable food qualities released to farmers as varieties. These clones are being multiplied throughout Ghana. Local germplasm accessions are being collected for characterization, evaluation and maintenance. A programme has been put into place for evaluating and selecting on a continuing basis, superior introduced IITA clones to replace lower yielding varieties that might succumb to new pests and diseases. Several clones are currently being evaluated under this programme. Packages of technology for producing cassava have been tested. These include, intercropping, fertilization, harvesting age and plant population studies.

5.2.3 Agronomic practices

Although extensive research has been carried out on the agronomy of cassava, impact on production has been low and farmers continue to use traditional methods of production and obtain low yields (NARP, 1994). It is envisaged that the organization of research on cassava on a multidisciplinary basis under the NARP would result in the generation of agronomic technologies for the improvement of cassava production in the next three to four years.

5.2.4 Biological control

Biological control of cassava green spider mite and cassava mealybug was successfully carried out by the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Department of MOFA, in collaboration with IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria. A new pest (Aleuroid spp.) of equal importance as the mealybug which is causing severe damage on the coastal plains is receiving serious biological control assistance.

5.2.5 Mechanization

Research information on mechanization of planting and harvesting of cassava is very low. Apart from earlier trials conducted in the 1960s (see section 3.1.5), the mechanized cassava harvester developed at the University of Leipzig, Germany is being tested for adaptation in Ghana by the Department of Agricultural Engineering of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. Research on manual and mechanized processing of cassava including power operated graters, manual screw presses and solar driers is ongoing; some of which has been widely adopted by processors in the country (NARP, 1994).


5.3.1 Processing

Mechanized cassava processing is now a fairly well established activity and there are several cassava processing plants in the country. Despite the steady increase in the rate of adoption of mechanized cassava processing there are factors which mitigate against the adoption of the technology. Mechanized cassava processing is often not a viable venture because the products have to compete with traditional products which are underpriced because traditional processors rely on family labour which is not perceived as cost. To process cassava profitably the plant has to be sited at very high cassava producing areas where raw material costs are low and production has to be at a very high capacity which is difficult to maintain.

Cassava processors usually have neither capital or access to capital to enable them to afford cassava processing equipment. Most operators in traditional and small-scale cassava processing plants also have limited managerial capabilities and training due to little formal education and this mitigates against the successful management of a cassava processing enterprise.

5.3.2 Utilization

A modest start has been made by the Food Research Institute and other private entrepreneurs in the production of various new convenience/instant foods from cassava such as fufu flours, agbelima and unfermented cassava flours. These products are steadily gaining popularity with the Ghanaian public however, their prices are not yet competitive.

5.3.3 Marketing

Inadequate infrastructure in the farming areas has adversely affected marketing of cassava and other food staples. Poor roads in rural areas mainly account for the rot of cassava in the hinterlands. The lack of a communication system has also not helped in effective marketing of cassava. In some areas, farmers are not encouraged to harvest all their cassava and sell them at once. Cassava which contains about 70 percent water must be dehydrated to reduce the cost of transporting the product from the rural areas to urban cities.

Marketing of products made from cassava have not been aggressive enough. Products such as kokonte, cassava flour which are well packaged and produced by the Food Research Institute and other industrialists are not well patronized relative to those produced locally and sold on the local markets. Prices offered for the same products on the local markets are cheaper than the industrially produced products. The cost of production of processed cassava products by industry are high and need to be made competitive, these measures are being addressed by the various processing companies. Intensive education is required to convince the populace to change its attitudes towards packaged food products such as powered fufu.


Prior to 1993 when three improved cassava varieties were released to farmers, various local varieties were cultivated in the country. The yields of the improved cassava varieties were about two to three times higher than the local varieties. With the establishment of organized markets for cassava in some parts of the country, there has been intensification of cultivation of the crop for the improvement of rural incomes in recent times. Whilst cultivation of the crop from land preparation and planting may be dominated by men, women play a major role in the production, processing and marketing of cassava in Ghana. The inadequacy of post-harvest technology (poor storage, marketing and processing facilities), poor market infrastructure and poor access of women farmers to formal credit continue to constrain investment in the agroprocessing of cassava.


Cassava is generally cultivated on smallholdings in association with crops such as maize, groundnut, cowpea, plantain and cocoyam depending on the agro-ecological zone and relies on residual soil nutrients when intercropped with maize which has been fertilized or as following crop in rotation with legumes. Cassava is grown mainly on impoverished soils with no soil amendments such as fertilizers. Continuous cropping of cassava particularly the high yielding varieties without adequate maintenance of soil fertility could lead to soil and environmental degradation. As an efficient soil nutrients miner, cassava removes large quantities of N and K and also of P and Mg. For instance, a harvest of 25 tonnes/ha of cassava removes about 60 kg/ha of N, 40 kg/ha of P2 OS and 136 kg/ha of K2O (NARP Roots and Tubers Research Programme, 1996).

Currently, cassava-based farms are low-input systems which require little or low agrochemicals and are therefore environmentally friendly. With the introduction of high yielding varieties and the promotion of cassava production for both food security and export, most technologies being tested lean towards agricultural intensification leaving more land available for environmental conservation and biodiversity preservation. This is particularly peculiar to cassava in the forest and transition zones of the country. Increased cassava production from land already under cultivation will reduce the need to encroach on forests and other ecologically fragile areas.

The successful results of the biological control of the pest programme of cassava clearly indicate that recourse to external chemical inputs which are harmful to the environment will be avoided as much as possible through the use of limited amounts of chemical fertilizers where no other alternatives are available. Integrated pest management for cassava and other crops is being promoted in the country to minimize damage of the environment.


Root and tuber crops research is being coordinated by CRI. This has enabled research work on the crops to attract local and international recognition and funding. Cooperation in work on root crops in Ghana has been forged between workers in research institutions, universities, extension workers and farmers. It is anticipated that the established extension-research linkage would benefit farmers immensely.

In consonance with government policy of increasing agricultural production for export, MOFA has taken the following initiatives:

The original SRDP and ESCaPP projects developed in long collaboration between Ghana and IITA in cassava development. These projects, especially ESCaPP, were a unique multidisciplinary and multi-institutional effort to develop, test and adapt sustainable cassava plant protection technologies for major production constraints in western Africa. Multidisciplinary teams of national plant protection experts joined with international experts to share expertise and pool efforts across ecozones. The African component is a collaborative effort between IITA, national plant protection staff, extension workers and farmers in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria. ESCaPP activities included diagnostic surveys of cassava pests in targeted ecozones, development and testing of appropriate intervention technologies with farmer participation, training of researchers, extensionists and farmers and special postgraduate training through Winrock International for African women scientists. Unique features of this approach included national teams of seconded multi-disciplinary scientists, shared local expertise and R&D activities based on local diagnoses and priorities.

The research, training, implementation and evaluation paradigm created is a model for appropriate crop management. Major accomplishments of ESCaPP Project at the close of Phase I include:

Cassava R&D Coordination

  1. Establishment of multidisciplinary national teams. This model has been adapted for other R&D activities in participating countries.

  2. Set research and implementation of priorities for specific ecozones based on diagnostic surveys.

Information Resources

CD-ROM of hyper-linked cassava information resources (personnel, institution and project directories, bibliographies, field guides and handbooks, general references, grey literature and databases for cassava plant protection decision-making).

Human Resource Development

  1. A curriculum for sustainable cassava plant protection based on needs of farmers, extensionists and researchers;

  2. 194 trainers, 1 800 extensionists and 2 400 farmer groups trained in sustainable cassava plant protection;

  3. Specialized training of 24 national researchers; post-graduate training of 12 women.

Intervention Development, Testing and Dissemination

  1. Regional diagnosis of major cassava pests and a digitized database of survey results;

  2. Collaborative research with existing institutional capacities to broaden the scope and impact of the project in the region;

  3. Classical biological control of the cassava green mite in the forest and transition zones. Pest populations have declined an average two-thirds and yields have increased by a third where the exotic natural enemies are established;

  4. A new disease of cassava has been discovered in Ghana (Bud Necrosis).

In the areas where an exporter of cassava chips has concentrated its activities, farmers' response has been overwhelming. Sale of chips is seen strictly as an income generating activity from surpluses of cassava that cannot otherwise be sold particularly in areas that have had problems of access to the traditional fresh root markets. Some 15 000 farming households have so far benefited. For 1996, expected average earnings from cassava chips sales were estimated at US$2 000 000 and this was reflected in improved life styles of the farmers as witnessed by improvements or expansion to their houses, purchases of bicycles, sewing machine, etc. (Pessey, 1997).

The Food Research Institute has identified 15 manufacturers of cassava processing machinery all of which together with the relevant research institutes, university departments, extension services of MOFA and various NGOs have been involved in the promotion of mechanized cassava processing. The efforts of the relevant national research institutes such as the Food Research Institute (FRI) and Institute of Industrial Research (IRI) of the CSIR towards the development of the cassava processing industry are indicated below.

The FRI has played an active role in the development of cassava processing technology in Ghana. In addition to fabrication of cassava processing equipment, including the introduction of mechanical and solar dryers, the FRI has developed improved technologies for processing cassava into traditional and non-traditional products. These include the processing of agbelima and akyeke into more convenient shelf-stable dehydrated products, the production of kokonte using solar and mechanical drying to yield very high quality products, the production of unfermented cassava flour and the production of fufu flour using cassava and other root crops. Some of these technologies such as the production of agbelima and fufu flours have been adopted by industry and are being commercially produced. To facilitate the dissemination of improved cassava processing technology and adoption of mechanized cassava processing in the country, the FRI in collaboration with the IRI established the Cassava Processing Demonstration Unit (CPDU) at Pokuase in a joint project with the African Regional Centre for Technology based in Dakar in 1987. The project was funded by the UNDP through the Economic Commission of Africa to serve as a focal point for accelerating the dissemination and training of entrepreneurs, traditional cassava processors and technicians engaged in the fabrication of food processing equipment. The CPDU has a full range of pilot scale cassava processing equipment and machinery, runs training programmes and assists entrepreneurs to set up cassava processing units and routinely produces cassava products for sale to the general public as a means of familiarizing them with upgraded products. The FRI is demonstrating and promoting the implementation of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point into traditional food processing to assure the microbiological quality of cassava and other indigenous products and to help improve their image in the eyes of local consumers.

5.7 Socio-economic impact

The success of each of the interventions in the cassava subsector outlined in Section 2 will manifest in increased yields and production and ultimately of food availability (food security) and incomes. Unfortunately, there have been no evaluation studies to assess these impacts neither is the data available for such evaluation.

However, it can be deduced that the fast spread of the crop in both the production and food systems is partly due to these projects and partly to the response of farmers to higher demand (commercial and subsistence) arising from a growing population. Together, these projects and farmer responses have resulted in the high contribution of 22 percent share to agricultural GDP from cassava. Other indicators of impact are contribution of cassava to per capita caloric intake and improved income from processing. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture estimates change in per capita consumption of cassava from 146 kg in 1985 to nearly 150 kg in 1995. Over the same period Yam consumption actually declined from 44 kg to just under 43 kg (Table 3).

The percentage of cassava processed and marketed also seems to be growing; US$32.2 million worth of cassava was sold by 16 percent of cassava growing households who sold the crop, compared to US$41.4 million earned by 55 percent of maize growing households who sold the maize further emphasize the high commercial value of cassava. In addition, the estimated total value of gari and cassava flour estimated by the GLSS survey was US$10.7 million compared to the next highest value of US$6.1 million for processed fish (Ghana Statistical Service, 1995). These values indicate a growing importance of the crop in cash income generation and more generally a probable shift from a subsistence crop to a cash crop.

The following provides a more specific assessment of the impact of cassava chip exports on employment and income. It is estimated that in 1996, 10 000 farming households were involved in the production of cassava chips for exports, earning an average of US$150 per household.

Table 3. Estimated levels of per capita consumption of starchy staples of (kg)


Source: Ministry of Food and Agriculture (1995)

The introduction of this activity has also seen the entry of more men into cassava processing. The effects of these positive impacts on employment and income generation on living standards will require further analysis on the distribution of the benefits within the households and in the local economies at large.

The traditional methods of cassava processing have seen the introduction of the mechanical grater and pressor, which have helped to reduce the drudgery and labour intensity of the processing methods. The mechanized subprocess has created opportunities for a higher rate of processing and turnover. Major beneficiaries of the mechanization are women who dominate in traditional cassava processing.

It is important that any future interventions including research and extension should not only include a monitoring component, but also an evaluation component to track progress, identify implementation problems and assess impact.

5.7.1 Constraints to further development of cassava


Up to the early 1980s, government policies were more favourable to cereals. Non-cereal staples like cassava were almost completely neglected. Since the 1982/83 drought cassava has emerged as the most drought tolerant crop that could be relied upon in attaining food security.

Its contribution to agricultural GDP has remained the highest (22 percent) since 1989. In spite of these attributes it took the Government nearly ten years through several short-term, donor-assisted projects to arrive at a definite project (NARP) that only partially provided the much needed support (research, extension) commensurate with the importance of the crop. Priority should have been given to cassava in view of its versatility adaptation to a wide range of ecologies and extent of cultivation throughout the country. More would have been achieved for cassava with only a fraction of the inputs given to the cereals. The fallout from this achievement would then serve as a catalyst for increased food production countrywide.

There is an urgent need for a clear and dynamic cassava policy that will provide adequate support for the development of the crop from production right through to marketing including product development and export.

Due to the slow start, it is only during the past three years or so, that processing particularly for export was started by a few private entrepreneurs without government encouragement or assistance. In view of the current short falls in production to meet export quotas (for chips and pellets), Government should play a more active role by coordinating the activities of all those connected with exports to (farmers, processors, port facilities, etc.) in order to facilitate their activities and maximize their output. Breakdown in varietal resistance/tonne to pests and disease has been the base of cassava improvement. In cooperation with the International Research Institutes (IITA, CIAT), researchers should be trained in modern biotechnology techniques to enable them to study and understand the plant mechanisms that bestow resistance/tolerance. By this approach, new resistant varieties can be bred in anticipation of future pests and disease outbreaks.

Data collection for compilation of statistics for cassava is not adequate for evaluating the impact of new varieties and technologies for the guidance of policy formulation, there is a need for a strong monitoring and evaluation unit for the cassava programme.

Under NARP, several institutions/organizations handle definite aspects of the cassava programme, the current coordinator is CRI, there is a need to look far ahead into the future and start planning now against the time when World Bank funding for NARP will end and the Government will be the sole provider of funds.



With the clear demonstration that the various interventions to promote increase in cassava production are yielding the desired results (increase of total production of 170 percent within the past ten years), it is suggested that the following measures should be adopted to increase productivity.

7.1.1 Planting material

Planting material should be made available to farmers at all times. To complement the efforts of MOFA in the multiplication of improved planting material for farmers, a programme should be initiated to identify and select three to five farms in each of the agro-ecological zones with the potential to take part in this exercise. A conscious effort should be made to provide inputs and logistics through a special fund to make this workable. This should form part of an overall national action plan for the industry. As a corollary, these farms should serve as secondary multiplication sites.

7.1.2 Research and extension

In order to make cassava attractive for use in industry, there is the need to substantially reduce the price of cassava roots to outdo the cereals, its closest substitute. To achieve this, the following should be considered:

7.1.3 Harvesting

A. Labour/drudgery in harvesting could be reduced through testing and adoption of simple manual lifting/digging devices (Thai lifting pole); b. The use of appropriate harvesting equipment to cut down on cost of harvesting. The new simple hand lifter used by peasant farmers in Thailand and adapted by the Post-harvest Unit of the Agricultural Engineering Department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture should be adopted for harvesting smallholder cassava farms; c. For commercial and large-scale farmers, the Leipzig University cassava harvester which was developed in Germany and currently being tested at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology could be adopted if found to be practical. The harvester harvests 2–3 hectares of cassava in eight hours, an operation which would require about 75 person hours. The equipment designers are ready to enter into agreement with local manufacturers for assembling the harvesters locally.


7.2.1 Processing

Further increases in production can only be realized through market-driven strategies. To underscore this suggestion, it has been shown that high yields (30 tonnes/ha) are obtained as a result of existing organized wholesale market in cassava producing areas. In addition to organized markets for the fresh roots, the establishment of processing facilities around production centres could encourage increased production, stabilize prices, enhance value-added processing into flours and instant/convenience and export market as well as increased production of chips and pellets in the country. In this respect, it is necessary to assess market-driven parameters and compare the relative comparative advantages that Ghana possess and their possible return on investment.

7.2.2 Cassava chips

The development of cassava chips is moving cassava from a situation of relative obscurity and neglect to the centre stage in national awareness and to the attention of the policy-makers, NGOs and bilateral partners (Antwi, 1994). Following the pioneering activity by a private company in developing an export led industry in cassava chips in 1993, there has been improvement in the contributions of cassava to employment generation, additional income, the livelihood of participating rural producers, export diversification and foreign exchange earnings for the country. At the level of rural producers, there has been tremendous interest and response to the new industry. Other private interests have become active in the marketing of cassava chips and working to access the export market and exploring the utilization of cassava chips in livestock feed and in alcohol production.

Though in general decline, the European Union (EU) livestock feed market for cassava chips of about 6 million tonnes per annum gives Ghana great export opportunities. This follows the continuing reductions in exports by the traditional market leaders namely; China, Indonesia and Thailand. Currently, Ghana has access to the 145 000 tonnes annual quota of cassava chips for the members of GATT set by the EU. This quota has never been fully utilized in the past. The best performance of nearly 57 000 tonnes was achieved in 1995 (Macambro pers. comm., 1996). Ghana's export performance of cassava chips of about 20 000 tonnes in 1996 accounted for about 75 percent of the performance under the GATT quota in that year (Tanoh pers. comm., 1997). Apart from the export, other potential markets for cassava chips currently being developed include: the local livestock feed market which is using about 100 000 tonnes of cereals per annum and the industrial production of alcohol.

7.2.3 Cassava-based flours for bakery and industrial uses

A study has indicated that there is a significant market potential for unfermented cassava flours as partial or total replacement for wheat in food and for the manufacturing of plywood and paperboard in industry (Day et al., 1996). In industry, the application of cassava flour could replace wheat flour which is used by the plywood industry as glue extender and possibly the industrial starch used in paper board. Presently the demand for industrial starch is estimated at about 2 500 tonnes per annum and could increase to about 5 000 tonnes per annum.

The largest market potential for cassava flour in the medium-to long-term in Ghana lies in food applications (Day et al., 1996). Cassava flour could potentially substitute large amounts of wheat flour currently used in bread, snacks and other food items. The market of wheat flour imported into the country is estimated at between 250 000 to 300 000 tonnes per annum. The possibility of replacing up to 20 percent or more of imported wheat flour with cassava flour is very attractive. A marketing sample survey conducted at the recent Industry and Technology Fair dubbed INDUTECH '97 held in Accra from 28 February to 10 March 1997, clearly showed that a composite flour of 20 percent cassava inclusion rate was widely accepted by the public as comparable to 100 percent wheat flour.

In spite of considerable research on bread making and the use of composite flours, there has been little impact on commercial practice (except where government controls wheat imports as in Nigeria). Cyanogenic glucosides contents, microbial contamination and inadequate drying have precluded uptake of cassava flour by large-scale food processors. With the informal producers of snack foods, cassava flour may prove popular as they have lower quality requirements compared to large-scale food processors. The most promising food products for cassava flour substitution on account of simplicity are pies/pastries, cakes, biscuits and doughnuts.

There is inadequate data on the size of the non-bread wheat flour market in Ghana (Day et al., 1996). Factors likely to expand the market with the possibilities for inclusion of cassava flours are urbanization, population growth and rising incomes. On the evidence of public response to snacks made from cassava composite flour presented at the INDUTECH '97 Fair, the prospects look good.

7.2.4 Cassava pellets

Although there is no export-based pelleting project in the country, it would be relevant to remark that over 90 percent of cassava chips that are exported to the EU enter as pellets. Hence as the export of cassava chips increases, this should be kept in view. Thailand started cassava chips export as raw chips but because of environmental concerns, most of the chips are now exported as pellets. Presently, GAFCO is the only company which has pelleting facilities and uses it for internal consumption requirements. Arrangements are far advanced to build for the first pelleting factory in the country to produce 25 000 tonnes of pellets annually for exports to the EU.

7.2.5 Cassava starch

The local market for starch is about 5 000 tonnes per annum. In the context of annual cassava production of about 7 million tonnes, the industrial starch market offers relatively little potential to expand the market for cassava (Day et al., 1996). Although the starch market in Ghana is very small, major opportunities for starch lie in the regional and subregional exports. Significant markets exist in Nigeria and South Africa (KB Consultants, 1995). In South Africa, the annual consumption of starch is about 300 000 tonnes per annum with an annual growth rate of 12 000 tonnes. Keen interest is currently being shown by investors from South Africa to invest in starch production in Ghana. A local company, GLUCOSET, which plans to produce high quality starch for both domestic and export markets is sufficiently large to attract potential investment (Noamesi, pers. comm.).


Research and Development (R&D) of expanded markets for cassava has been identified as a major bottleneck in the promotion of cassava as a food security and industrial crop. Available data suggests that Ghana has a comparative advantage at the farm gate for cassava. However, this advantage is quickly to slow down the marketing chain. This is mainly attributed to poor road and transport infrastructure and the associated high transport costs, as well as the comparative inefficiency of marketing systems (Day et al., 1996). The improvement for competitiveness of Ghana in the cassava export markets. It is worth pointing out that the problem of the inefficiency of market systems is not peculiar to cassava. In addition to problems and constraints listed in the National Cassava Task Force Report (NCTF, 1996), the following are some of the constraints to market development of cassava which are to be addressed to raise cassava as a major agricultural commodity in Ghana:

In conclusion, enhancing the marketing opportunity for cassava and its products calls for government intervention in the promotion of investments in the development of cassava products by guaranteeing loans for the private investor, the use of legislation to protect investors in the development of cassava, intensive education of consumers and encouragement for schools of manufacturers in the food industry to use cassava products.


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Best cassava-producing districts in each region of Ghana

RegionDistrictProduction (tonnes)Acre (ha)Yield (tonnes)
EasternBirim South259 720 (2)17 200 (1)5.1 (10)
 Asuogyaman182 000 (4)10 000 (7)- 18.2 (6)
 West Akim171 000 (5)15 000 (2)11.4 (12)
 Manya Krobo153 720 (7)8 400 (10)18.3 (5)
G/AccraTema46 084 (21)11 200 (6)4.1
 East Dangbe20 500 (24)5 0004.1
 Ga 5 0004.1
VoltaNkwanta234 000 (3)13 000 (5)18.0 (7)
 Kete Krachi144 000 (8)8 00018.0 (7)
 Hohoe/Jasikan68 400 (15)3 80018.0 (7)
NorthernBimbila31 500 (22)4 2006.5
 Bole28 500 (23)3 0009.5
 Tolon Kumbungu17 000 (25)2 0008.5
 Damongo -  
Brong AhafoTechiman270 560 (1)8 900 (9)30.4 (1)
 Atebubu132 540 (9)14 100 (4)9.4
 Wenchi116 100 (10)5 40021.5 (3)
 Sunyani107 730 (11)5 70018.9 (4)
 Nkoranza112 7394 07027.70 (2)
AshantiAtwima157 300 (6)14 300 (3)11.0 (13)
 Amansie West102 000 (12)10 000 (7)10.2 (17)
 Amansie East83 200 (13)8 000 (11)10.4 (15)
 Offinso73 200 (14)6 10012.0 (11)
WesternJuabeso-Bia59 129 (15)5 79710.2 (17)
 Wassa Amenfi58 181 (18)6 2569.3
 Aowin Suaman55 558 (20)5 9749.3
CentralMfantsiman64 459 (14)6 08110.6 (14)
 Agona59 384 (17)5 71010.4 (15)
 Upper Denkyira55 876 (19)5 47810.2 (17)

Best three districts in each region with high potential for cassava production
- Figures in brackets are ranked
* Districts with high yields


Estimates of determinants of village level mean cassava root yield (kg)

Explanatory variablesMinimum set modelPopulation cassava/ sales ModelPopulation purchased input model
Intercept4 288.964 006 580-3 755.976
Climate Zone2 221.5531 414 6633 046.419
(1 if subhumid)(2.877)(2.053)(4.863)
Village mean plant0.3230.7600.583
density (stds/ha)(4.353)(1.730)(6.038)
Village mean plant480.989276.204-59.906
Age (months after planting)(2.908)(1.730)(-4.297)
Village population-110.895  
Village mean proportion of cassava 68.6103 402.002
Marketed (percent)  (10.295)
Hired labour used in village (1 if yes)   
Statistics: R20.190.390.54

Source: Unpublished COSCA data 1990/91

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