Ghana: Poultry and Products Annual 2008

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service GAIN Report by Levin Flake and Elmasoeur Ashitey. A link to the full report is provided. Ghana's domestic poultry industry continues to decline.
calendar icon 1 September 2008
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Report Highlights

Ghana poultry imports have more than tripled in the past few years as Ghana's domestic poultry sector continues to decline and can only supply around 10 percent of poultry demand in the country. The United States is a major supplier to Ghana, and imports from the U.S. are at record levels this year.


The poultry industry in Ghana grew rapidly during the 1980-1990’s, developing into a vibrant agricultural sector and supplying about 95 percent of chicken meat and eggs in the country. This growth was due to the Government of Ghana’s (GOG) initiative in the 1960s to promote commercial poultry production as the greatest potential for addressing the acute shortfall in the supply of animal protein. The growth of the poultry industry was initially slow, due to irregular supply of imported day-old chicks and other inputs and frequent outbreaks of poultry diseases which discouraged potential farmers. However, in 1970 the GOG as part of its support for the development of the poultry industry removed custom duties on poultry inputs (feed, additives, drugs and vaccines). In addition poultry producers had access to veterinary services provided by the GOG or private practitioners.

Since 2000/2001, however, Ghana’s poultry sector has been experiencing a steep decline. This severe decline in the local poultry industry is due to the very high cost of production (feed, inputs, energy). Other constraints include the high energy tariffs that have shot up production costs resulting in low profits, lack of credit for expansion and difficulty in accessing markets. By 2005, domestic poultry production was only able to meet 34 percent of demand as most poultry producers stopped producing broilers for meat altogether and started concentrating solely on the production of eggs. Both government and industry sources have indicated that poultry meat (broiler) production for 2007 fell to below 11 percent of demand. Most of the small and medium-scale producers have completely closed down. In Ghana local processing of poultry into cut portions to facilitate quick and easy use by consumers is nonexistent. There are two poultry enterprises that have the facility for processing poultry into dressed whole birds but this has not been sustained. Imported poultry products tend to be cheaper by 30-40 percent than the locally produced chicken. Egg sales, however, face relatively minor competition on the market compared to poultry meat.

Industry Composition

The active commercial poultry production sector in Ghana can be categorized into large-scale (over 10,000 birds), medium-scale (5,000-10,000 birds) and small-scale (50-5,000) enterprises. The domestic commercial farms are privately – owned by individuals or a family. The large-scale category form about 20 percent of the total poultry sector, producing mainly eggs, and most operate their own feed-mill and some maintain a hatchery and parent stock. The level of bio-security practice is high in the large-scale category.

Meanwhile, the medium-scale and the small-scale category form about 80 percent of the poultry sector and rely on hatcheries for their day-old chicks and the feed mill operators for their feed. The medium-scale category also produces mainly eggs. Included in the small scale category are backyard poultry producers who produce mainly broiler birds. The medium and small-scale group, practice minimal bio-security, with free-range and wild birds sometimes gaining access to the poultry houses. These operations are thus predisposed to disease out breaks such as Avian Influenza. Most of the commercial poultry farmers produce broiler birds for sale only during the festive seasons (Christmas and Easter), a period in which Ghanaians prefer live chickens.

For several years day-old chicks for commercial production have been produced by seven hatchery companies. Presently the poultry hatcheries are producing at only between 11-60 percent of capacity as a result of low demand. Only three of these hatchery companies maintain their own parent stock of layer or broiler birds. The rest depend on imported fertile eggs.

The broiler and layer birds are kept wholly indoors, on deep litter, or in battery cages fed on well formulated diets. The broiler birds in 6-7 weeks attain 2.0-2.5kg live-weight and are then ready for the market. The layer birds reach 16 weeks for pullets to start laying eggs. The industry average egg production is 230-250 eggs/layer/year. The main feed ingredients are locally obtained corn or imported yellow corn, cotton-seed cake, kernel cake, soybean cake, copra cake, fish-meal and soybean meal. Vitamin-mineral premixes are also imported. The average cost of producing broiler in Ghana (liveweight 2.0-2.5kg / dressed weight of 1.5-1.9kg) is estimated GHC10.00 ($10) for large-scale producers and it could be more for small-scale producers. This figure is far above the price of imported poultry. According to the industry, poultry production in Ghana is a high-cost intensive enterprise due largely to high input costs.

In May 2007, Ghana became the eighth African country to confirm H5N1 avian influenza (AI) outbreaks in poultry. The disease was first reported in Africa in February 2006, when it was detected in Nigeria, and has since been reported in a number of African countries. Ghana’s initial poultry outbreaks were detected between mid-April and June 2007 on a few smallscale farms in three regions. The disease was quickly contained by quarantining and destroying all the birds in the affected farms to prevent the spread of the virus. The Agriculture Ministry compensated the farmers using 50-90 percent of the market value for the destroyed birds. In addition public awareness programs such as distribution of information leaflets, posters, radio and television announcements, discussions and workshops to educate the public on mode of spread of AI, its detection and control were undertaken. Most large-scale commercial poultry farms have instituted high bio-security measures to prevent the entry of AI into their farms.

A surveillance system has also been established by the GOG to monitor and assess the AI threat at all the entry points along the borders of Ghana, at market places and resting places of wild birds, including areas near water bodies. Last year the USDA Cochran Fellowship Program trained four Ghanaian Veterinary staff in the US on AI and food safety to support the control and prevention of AI in Ghana. These veterinary officers have been used as resources persons in the training of other animal health officials. In addition training on detection of AI and control has also been carried out countywide for all Veterinary staff. The Government has also established Avian Influenza Working Group (AIWG) as recommended by the FAO and WHO. The AIWG has published “Ghana’s Preparedness and Response Plan for Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza 2005-2006.”

Feed production

Ghana’s poultry feed industry has been declining due to the reduction in domestic broiler production. Most commercial feed millers have shifted to producing layer feed which constitutes about 90 percent of feed production with broiler feed only accounting for about 10 percent. Broiler feed is primarily purchased by small scale backyard poultry producers, although there is seasonal demand from larger producers who raise birds for the festive seasons such as Christmas and Easter. Poultry feed accounts for about 70 percent of the total feed produced in Ghana.

Feed manufacturers in Ghana can be categorized into commercial feed millers and on-farm self millers. Presently Ghana has about five commercial feed mills with a total installed operating capacity of 500 tons per day. However, most feed millers are only producing about 40-50 percent capacity due to the slack demand from the poultry industry. The average amount of compound feed produced in Ghana has remained at about 8,000 MT for the past few years.

Most of the medium-scale and small-scale poultry producers are supplied by the commercial feed millers. These feed millers produce mainly mash feed, with only a few producing high feed concentrates and only one feed mill pelletizing feed. Most small and medium-scale poultry producers prefer the feed concentrates because it is cheaper, convenient and less bulky for transportation.

The main ingredients for compound feed are locally obtained corn or imported yellow corn and wheat bran. Corn typically forms about 50-60 percent of the total feed formulation and the poultry industry consumes nearly 30 percent of all corn produced in the Ghana. Feed prices in Ghana have been climbing, primarily due to the rising cost of corn. The price of white corn per 50kg bag in July 2008 was GHC45.00 ($45), nearly double the cost of GHC24.70 ($24.70) in the same period in 2007. As a result of the scarcity and high cost of white corn the GOG this year encouraged traders to import corn. As such three companies have been granted permits to import yellow corn for the poultry industry and a total of 26,320 MT of yellow corn has so far been imported into Ghana, primarily from Argentina. One of the companies is bringing an additional 15,000 MT in August 2008.

Soybean meal inclusion in poultry feed is low due to high cost and the inclusion level of soybean meal ranges from as low as 10 percent to 18 percent of feed ration for layers and 15 to 25 percent of feed formulation for broilers. Controlling animal feed costs is critical in this industry given that it represents approximately 82 percent of variable production cost (industry source). As such feed manufacturers are switching to low cost substitutes such as palm-kernel cake, groundnut cake and fish meal that are by-products from agro-processing.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

Other Reports in this Series

To view our complete list of 2008 Poultry and Products Annual Reports from USDA FAS GAIN, please click here

September 2008

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