The rising cost of electricity has been a huge constraint to research activities at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute in recent times resulting mainly from the high amounts of power needed to run the ultra-modern laboratories and other facilities at the Institute.
Appiah A., Nsiah Frimpong B., Acheampong P.P., Haleegoah J., Osei-Adu J.,
Amengor E. N., Asante B.O.
CSIR-Crops Research Institute, Kumasi-Ghana
Maize is the most important grain cereal in Ghana because it is grown in the entire agro-ecological zones, occupies 29% of food crops under cultivation, and constitutes 67% of cereal production. However, the domestic maize market faces a number of challenges; notable amongst them is the issue of low standardization and product differentiation. This has affected the nation’s competitiveness and integration into international markets. It has also contributed to the growing inequity in income distributions along the maize value chain actors.
To address this challenge, the USAID Feed the future (FtF) Ghana through its Agricultural Policy Support Project (APSP), supported the CSIR-Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI) to research into Market Standardization, Grading and Pricing of Maize in Ghana. The study was conducted in the two most important maize growing and marketing municipalities (Ejura and Techiman) of the transition zone of Ghana.
The study sought to understand how existing measuring units evolved in maize marketing; evaluate marketing standards in relation to that developed by Ghana Standards Authority; identify the most acceptable standards by all actors; identify options for introducing new standards; and to make policy recommendations.
The study employed a number of research methods such as reconnaissance survey, participatory rural appraisal (key informant interviews, focus group discussions) with maize value chain actors and relevant ministries, departments, and agencies.
Results indicated that, measuring units evolved from an unstandardized measure size 4 bags (132Kg) to size 5 bags (155Kg) introduced by traders at the farm-gate. Through an enactment and enforcement of a bye-law by the Ejura Sekyedumase Municipal Assembly, the size 4 bags (132Kg) was re-introduced in maize marketing and adopted by surrounding districts and municipalities such as Techiman, Nkoranza, Atebubu Amantin and Wenchi. The introduction of the new measure which resulted in a 23Kg gain on each bag sold resulted in extra incomes (15%) for producers. However, few institutions operating in the municipalities purchased maize with a standardized weight of 50Kg. The use of the standardized weight resulted in higher income gains for producers.
Quality grain standards relating to whole grains, well dried grains, uniform colored grains and diseased-free grains have recently been of concern since consumers are now conscious of their health. In assessing grain quality, most maize chain actors rely on personal experience and conventional methods to eliminate broken grains, diseased grains, discolored grains, infested grains, germinated grains, mixtures and test moisture level in the grains to meet the quality attributes preferred by the market.. Standards developed by Ghana Standards Authority with regards to labelling with product (variety) name, net weight in Kg, grade, batch code, registered trade mark, country of origin, and year of harvest was nonexistent in the market. Awareness of these standards among producers and local traders were low and conformity was missing in domestic markets. The study concluded that standardization in maize marketing in Ghana is still low. Producers also lack on-farm storage and grading facilities so during major season most of the grains start deteriorating in the field. Few segments of the market use standardized measures and adhere to quality standards.
The following recommendations are made for policy considerations.
• Ministry of Food and Agriculture must be resourced financially and through training of its staff to organize pre-planting, pre-harvesting and post harvest meetings for maize chain actors especially producers as poor grains development start from the field. The Ministry can seek support from other donor institutions.
• Ministry of Food and Agriculture must include information on production, harvesting, grain handling, management and standardization in their E-Extension program
• There is the need for inter-ministerial efforts in regulating and enforcing developed standards. Ghana Standards Authority must collaborate with District departments of Agriculture, Municipal Assemblies and Food and Drugs Authority to educate maize chain actors extensively on grain standards using the pictorial charts and distribute copies to them. The Ministry of Interior and Transport Union can contribute to enforcing standards on market days.
• There should be a short jingle or documentary on grain standardization aired on television, radio and community information centers.
• Investment in warehouse receipting system in the maize growing districts through the Public Private Partnership must be explored by government as it will enforce adherence to the standards, improve the maize value chain and enhance maize grain export.
• To improve market efficiency, a Legislative Instrument (LI) on regulations on agricultural commodities standardization including maize grains is needed.
• Maize value chain actors must be supported on innovation Platforms to facilitate local ownership of marketing standards.
• Some basic equipment such as moisture meters and weighing scales must be subsidized and made available to both farmers and traders.
• The farmer based concept must be strengthened to help promote standards.
• Lessons can be drawn from the experiences of the two municipal assemblies that standardization can be achieved if surrounding districts combine their efforts with other departments, ministries and agencies at the grass root.