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Upstream processing of agricultural produce: prospects and challenges for Ghana's economic development
The world economy is dynamic and buoyant and with its technological developments one cannot sit idly by and be complacent, otherwise one would be overtaken by events. Developed countries have reached electronic, computer and satellite age. Should the developing countries like Ghana be satisfied with her present stage of agricultural development which supplies raw materials to the developed nations? Ghana is basically an agricultural country with fertile savanna and forest land which can be used to cultivate all kinds of food and commercial crops. Its natural resources should therefore be harnessed to its best advantage. Ghana Export Promotion Council is doing all it can for the export of the non-traditional products either in processed or raw/fresh forms which contributed about 8% of the export proceeds in 1997. Of these export proceeds of non-traditional products, processed and semi-processed products contributed 81.12%. However, in terms of the tonnage of the processed products the quantity was quite small. In 1997 the Agricultural Sector contributed 40.1% to the GDP. This contribution is not enough to justify its rich savanna and forest. This situation can be improved by reviewing the land tenure system, the small-scale farming practices, the low yields of the produce, lack of sufficient material and financial support, poor marketing practices, post harvest losses, as well as undeveloped infrastructure like roads, water, electricity, dams, irrigation, etc. The bulk of the food surpluses which would be produced when the agricultural sector is improved should be processed into semi-finished and finished products to extend the shelf life and thus add value for both the domestic and export markets. By this means the economy of Ghana would improve, that is GDP will increase, value will be added to the produce, more foreign exchange would be earned to improve the balance of payment and more taxes/import duties would be collected by the Government to run the country. In addition, ancillary factories would be established to service and support the processing factories, while unemployment level would be reduced and the social and living standard of the people would also improve. Though upstream processing of agricultural produce has its challenges, however, when these challenges are properly tackled and solved, the prospects gained would outweigh the challenges. In this way, Ghana's industrialization programme would have been accelerated and recognized accordingly.
JOURNAL OF THE GHANA SCIENCE ASSOCIATION Volume 2 No. 3 (2000) pp. 46-69