The impact of road transport on prices of agricultural produce - a case study of West Gonja District in Ghana

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development does not appear everywhere and all at once. But it appears in certain points or development poles which often attract more manpower and development activities and services. The result is spatial concentration which is paralleled by retardation’ in other areas. This spatial concentration gives rise to the very foundations of the gap between urban and rural areas in terms of levels of economic development and structural change, In Ghana, the gap between the majority rural population who make up about 67% of the population and the minority urban dwellers (33%) is continuing to widen despite concerted efforts by the government to narrow it. One strategy towards this end is the transformation of the rural predominantly agricultural economy into a market-oriented economy with the view to enabling the rural population to contribute fully in the country’s development needs as well as raising their income levels and standards of living above sub— sistence But the transformation process is being hampered with a number o: development problems and constraints amidst great human and natural potentials, One of the most pertinent and urgent of those is the problem of transportation. - Few forces have boon more influential in modifying he earth than transportation, yet transportation itself is the result of other forces. It has made areas and their people more alike since they are enabled to shako ideas, goods and Services. It has also made areas more until since each region has boon enabled to specialize in activities it can do best, whether based on factors of production related to land, labour and capital or simply economies of scale. The West Gonja District is no exception to this problem. More importantly, the road transport system has some direct impact on the distribution and marketing of agricultural produce and, concomitantly, on prices of farm crops. It was in this light that the study undertook a survey on the socio—economic profile of the district, the production, transportation and marketing of four major food crops in the district. The methodology involved the collection of secondary data through library research and primary data from field studies and the analysis of the data gathered including the use of the analytical frame-work The study revealed that the district had the lowest road density (0.02 m/Km2) in the Northern Region and that about 53% of the feeder roads wore in poor condition (8000 - 11,000 mm/km). The roads were characterized by potholes, ditches and. gullies and were un-motorable for a greater part of the year particularly during the rainy season. Transport services were found to be difficult and costly. For farm to village haulage of harvested crops, head portorage was dominant (51%) followed by tractors (40) and draught animals (9%) for the less accessible areas while for the accessible settlements the figure was 32%, 56% and 12%, respectively, Head portorage was superseded by lorries in the village to market conveyance of farm produce. The usage of the mode of transport was determined by the condition and type of the road available. Better tracks and footpaths wore to be found connecting villages to periodic markets than forms to villages. According to the study, transportation costs in the farm to village haulage were about two or three times higher than in the village to market movement of farm produce largely because of the type and condition of the road. Marketing cost was found to constitute a sizeable proportion of the final price of an agricultural produce. For example, the consumer price of maize in Buipe (in more accessible area) was made up of 72.4% village – gate price, 14.3% trader’s profit margin and 13.3% marketing costs. Of the total marketing costs, transport cost alone accounted for up to 51%. The poor condition of the secondary road and the rural access infrastructure (feeder road, tracks, trails and footpaths), shortage of vehicles, high transport costs, and unfair practices of middlemen – transport operation, trader and marketing agencies – were found to frustrate the efforts of the small-scale peasant farmer towards surplus production. In a word, the roads and transport services in the district must be planned to be fully serviceable to the complex interplay of interests they serve – for instance, agrarian traffic (farm inputs and outputs), social traffic (tradesmen, supervisory and inspectorate work) and commuter traffic of non-agricultural workers living in villages. There is little doubt that successful development of efficient prop for the rapid transformation of agriculture and other sector of the economy for the betterment of the quality of life in West Gonja District
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 1990