Accessibility and marketing of commodities for District development - a case study of Ahanta West District in Ghana

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Like in many other African countries agriculture is the dominant activity in Ghana, engaging more than half of the active labour force and contributing substantially to the national economy. In addition to agriculture, small scale industry and fishing are also significant. While the primary aim in these activities is production for subsistence, marketing of the surplus is another objective. Unfortunately however, producers face many problems in carrying out this second function. The major problem they face is inaccessibility to markets, which limits their full participation in the market and exchange system. Inaccessibility to markets is the result of many factors including poor road condition, limited transport supply and high transport charges. As a result, producers are forced to sell to middlemen or assemblers at low prices. The effect of accessibility on marketing is not well understood, especially at the district level. This study therefore investigates how accessibility influences marketing and evolves strategies to improve both. The study made use of extensive literature research, interviews, observations and discussions. Data obtained from these sources were analysed. The study’s major findings are summarised as follows; i) The district has a road density of 0.27km/km2 but generally, the roads are in poor condition. Only 19km of theentire feeder road network was in good condition, 6.7km in Lair condition and the rest (84.3km) was in poor condition. ii) Transport costs were high, averaging about l9l per ton km for maize in the accessible corridors and c238 per ton km in the inaccessible corridors. This variation in costs is due to the differences in road condition and the transport supply. In accessible corridors, distance accounted for about 67 percent of the variations in transport costs, while in inaccessible corridors, this was 42 percent. iii) Mini-buses and taxis are the main means of motorised transport used for the transportation of goods and passengers between the settlements and the Agona market as well as between the Agona market and Takoradi. However, transportation of produce from farm to village is entirely done by head porterage. iv) In the district, middlemen handle almost all types of produce including oil palm, coconut and cocoa. Only 22 percent of the producers are able to sell their produce directly to consumers in the market. v) The same quantity of produce shows price differences between •accessible and inaccessible corridors as well as between the farmgate and the market. Farm gate price in accessible corridors are higher than those in inaccessible corridors. For example, the farm gate price of a 91kg bag of cassava is 12.5 percent higher in accessible corridors than in inaccessible ones. Price differentials for a 68kg bag of gari, is 4.5 percent higher in the accessible corridor. Similarly, the market price of tomato is about 55 percent higher than its farmgate price in an inaccessible corridor. For gari it is about 13 percent higher. Again, the trend is that the difference between farmagate prices and market prices is higher for perishable produce like tomato or fish. At the same time, process products like gari which can store longer show a small price difference between accessible and inaccessible corridors and between farmgate and market prices. The study recommends that the roads linking Egyambra and Anyano, Princess Town and Abura, Cape Three Points Agona and Mpatano and Ewusiejo should be rehabilitated. In addition, community participation should be encouraged in road maintenance programmes. It is also recommended that the market infrastructure should be improved by building more permanent structures and providing water, storage and toilet facilities. A second periodic market for the district should be located in Apowa. The management of the transport and marketing systems would be improved through the formation of co-operatives, better remuneration and revenue collection strategies and promotion of private investments. It is anticipated that the adoption and implementation of these recommendations will go a long way to improving accessibility and marketing within the district.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management,1993.