February 28, 2024

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The African Development Bank launches research project on grain quality grading and certification in Ghana

Bowls full of grains displayed in a market in Accra, Ghana.

The African Development Bank has launched a three-year research and outreach initiative in Ghana to enhance the cereal value chain development in the country.

The Grain Quality Grading and Certification Project is being implemented by the Microeconomics, Institutional and Development Impact Division of the African Development Bank, in partnership with the School of Agriculture of the University of Ghana.

The project examines whether the proper grading and certification of grains in sub-Saharan African countries could be leveraged to promote investments in grain quality enhancement to increase consumption of safe and healthy food locally, and open opportunities for grain exports into global markets.

The need to establish rules, quality grades and standards, and certification in Africa’s grain markets is essential to govern and foster national and regional grain transactions in the new era of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and to accelerate the setup of commodity exchange.

This project is therefore exploring the following:

  1. Whether grain quality grading and certification at the smallholder and market levels significantly increases investment in grain quality enhancement, improves access to high-end markets, and creates a price premium for high-quality grains.
  2. Whether there is a business case for independent third-party provision of grain grading and certification.

The launch in October brought together key stakeholders in the grain value chain in Ghana, including academia, development practitioners, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, farmers, aggregators, and local processors, among others.

Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr. Yaw Frimpong Addo, in his opening remarks, said the government is committed to enforcing rules, quality grades and standards in Ghana’s grain markets to ensure food safety and promote commodity exchange within the country and across regional grain markets.

He noted that Ghana in 2022 adopted a National Policy for Aflatoxin Control in Food and Feed with the goals of safeguarding human health, protecting animal health, and boosting incomes for farmers, the food industry, and value chain participants.

The Ghana Standards Authority and other relevant stakeholders have already developed various standards for some grains to promote proper grading. This project is expected to contribute to the enforcement of the standards and make further progress, the minister added.

A project team member, Dr Charles Yaw Okyere of the University of Ghana, noted how the issue of food safety and quality must be taken seriously to protect consumers and expressed concern about the high levels of aflatoxins in grains found in markets across Ghana.

The project Lead and Senior Research Economist at the African Development Bank, Dr Francis H. Kemeze, said promoting grain quality across African markets is a Bank priority. Africa loses up to $670 million worth of trade annually due to aflatoxin contamination alone, he said, adding that aflatoxin levels in 40% of food commodities traded in domestic African markets exceed tolerable levels.

Processing companies which could buy grains such as maize in large quantities from local farmers resort to import instead, “because of stringent downstream food safety regulatory requirements that they are unable to meet while procuring locally,” said Dr Kemeze.

This constitutes a missed opportunity for the local farmers and the local economy because if buyers were assured of quality, they would be willing to pay a premium price for high-quality grain, he said.

The project has received financial support from the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Fund (KOAFEC).  The project team anticipates collaborating with the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the Ghana Commodities Exchange (GCX), the Ghana Grains Council (GGC), and other institutions in the grain value chain in Ghana.

The aim is to generate several positive results including: (i) empowering smallholders in market negotiations, allowing them to receive a premium price for higher quality grain; and (ii) encouraging uptake of technologies that increase production and resilience of grain suitable for high-value processing and exportation.

In addition, the research team will build capacity in Ghana through extensive outreach aimed at a wide range of stakeholders in the grain value chain.

For more information, visit www.afdb.org

(AFDB)

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