Problems of distribution and marketing of agricultural produce; a study of the role of women in the Kumasi Central Market

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Agriculture is the prime mover of the Ghanaian economy, contributing 49 percent of the total GNP. It is the main source of income for about 60 percent of the population and the government recognises its importance. The government’s strategies for increasing agricultural production take account of marketing. Nevertheless it appears, little account is taken of the marketing intermediaries and the role they play in the distribution and marketing of agricultural produce. Ghanaian women dominate marketing of agricultural produce. They face problems in transporting the commodities from the producing areas to the markets. There is poor linkage between rural producing areas and the markets, poor road conditions, unreliable and costly transportation; inadequate market facilities and operational capital. All these constraints put excessive pressure on women’s ability to supply and meet the demands of the consumers. The aim of the study is to identify problems of distribution and marketing of agricultural produce by women as well as suggest possible solutions to the identified problems. To attain this aim, field surveys were carried out by interviewing traders (both wholesalers and retailers), as well as farmers to verify the scale of the problems. The study established that some producing areas are inaccessible by light duty vehicles and these forces traders to request timber drivers to bring their commodities from these areas. There is also a problem of delays during transportation due to regular breakdowns and absence of all weather roads in some rural areas. The roads are impassable during the rainy season. This delays transportation of produce leading to deterioration of the produce before it reaches the market. Additionally, there is lack of access to formal credit, inadequate market facilities as poor sanitation, inadequate covered stalls, limited space for selling, loading and unloading, leading to chronic congestion in the market. Discussions with some of the farmers whose produce is on offer in Kumasi confirmed that women pre-finance their production activities. This is because the farmers also face a problem of inadequate credit and this forces them to sell their produce at low prices to their pre-financiers. This seems to contribute to the distortion of prices of agricultural produce. It gives the women monopoly over the sale of agricultural produce as well as denies the farmers the opportunity to eliminate intermediaries in cases where they are unnecessary. Farmers and traders are considered to be equally important in the general framework of enhanced agricultural productivity. As a result, the study recongnises that marketing problems can only be solved by addressing the distinct problems of these two groups. The recommendations made cannot be implemented solely by the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, they call for combined efforts of various development actors. They include maintenance of feeder roads, formation of cooperatives, improvement of the market, introduction of scales and promotion of their use, provision of market information as well as basic training in simple processing methods.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 1998