Essential food imports hit US$2bn annually


Ghana’s import of essential food commodities has reached an average US$2 billion each year, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has said.

According to the MoF, key foodstuffs including rice, poultry, sugar and tomatoes comprise a chunk of the imports.

Data from the ministry indicates that between 2017 and 2020 alone, the country reportedly spent between US$845.9 million to US$2 billion on the importation of rice, poultry, and tomatoes, among others.

About US$721 million was spent on chicken and fish imports, US$35.7 million on meat and US$34.9 million on vegetables in 2020. Other commodities which are contributing to the rising imports include cooking and essential oils, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and fruits.

Meanwhile, the U.S envisages that Ghana’s food and agricultural imports will continue to grow as the current underdeveloped food processing sector is unable to meet increasing demand. Food imports from the U.S mostly comprise bulk, intermediate, and consumer-oriented commodities such as rice, wheat, soybean meal, and poultry.

Exports of agricultural and related products to Ghana in 2021 from the U.S were US$156.6 million, an increase of about 48 percent over the previous year’s value (US$105.6 million). U.S. exports of rice, poultry, and wheat reached an all-time high of US$127.2 million in 2021 alone out of the total exports to Ghana.

Equally, imports of consumer-oriented food from the European Union into Ghana remain strong.

“With these figures, it is obvious that we cannot continue to be a nation of importers. We must have a different approach to our agriculture as a nation,” Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta told the B&FT, noting that there is the need for clarity of vision and unity of purpose to put in place measures to allow Ghana’s agriculture sector to thrive.

MoF indicates that though the agriculture sector has been experiencing slight growth in recent years, the increasing trend in the country’s food import bill is a worrying one.

The sector, according to the Ministry has seen some modest gains, growing by 7.3 percent in 2020 and 8.4 percent in 2021 compared to the national GDP growth of 0.4 percent in 2020 and 5.4 percent last year.

Respectively, the sector grew by 5.6 percent for the first quarter of 2022 compared to 1.5 percent and 3.1 percent for industry and the service sectors. It maintains that a lot is required from farmers, businesses, banks and various government agencies to realise the desired agricultural transformation in the country through investment in the sector, to cut down the imports.

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