European agricultural imports to Ghana and their influences on the local economy

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Today, fairafric is taking a look beyond the chocolate plate and examines the Ghanaian poultry sector in detail. For what reason? – That’s quite simple: The global poultry market is a descriptive example for economic impact on a country whose local supply was replaced by global imports.

Between 2002 and 2016, european exports of animal products to third countries increased by 138 percent. One of these mass-exported agricultural products is poultry meat. The production of chicken meat has been increasing for years in Germany, poultry fattening has been expanded steadily and is now designed for overproduction. The main reason for this is the growing national demand for chicken breast fillet, which European customers prefer. This results in an overproduction, which is intended for export to third countries and is additionally subsidized by the EU. This is the beginning of a one-way street which has dramatic consequences for the economy in Ghana. In the following, we will take a brief look at the current developments in the poultry sector in Ghana and concentrate on those who are affected.

The importance of the poultry sector for Ghana

For a long time, companies in poultry meat production provided secure jobs in Ghana. Until around the turn of the millennium, when the local trade in poultry meat was rapidly displaced by the opening to the world market, thousands of Ghanaians found work in the poultry sector. If these jobs were lost for longer, the imported chicken meat would force people to flee to Europe in the worst case. For a better life, former small farmers and former workers from Ghana often take the notorious route through the Sahara towards the Mediterranean Sea. The extinction of the local poultry market has also contributed to this. Many individual stories prove this.

The consequences of market opening in the poultry sector

In the 2000s, Ghana reduced import duties and opened its market. We reported in detail on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) last year. These led to a takeover of the poultry market in Ghana by European, US and Brazilian producers. At the moment, around 90 percent of the poultry market in Ghana consists of foreign production. In contrast, the former largest chicken production in Ghana Darko-Farm currently has a market share of less than 10 percent of the total poultry market in Ghana, whereas 20 years ago, Darko sold 90 percent of the poultry meat in Ghana. This decline is mainly due to the low prices of subsidized imported chicken meat. Local poultry farms in Ghana are not able to cope with this unfair competition.

Poultry producers find new ways

Due to this lack of competitiveness of poultry producers in Ghana, some farmers became creative and in many places a reorientation from poultry meat production to the production of hen eggs took place. Due to expensive imported poultry feed, however, this business is unprofitable and is accompanied by losses. Many Ghanaian women, who were formerly active in the poultry sector, are now unemployed, as they cannot keep up their businesses even with the sale of eggs. However, the lack of competition in egg production gives hope that some female producers will manage this reorientation. Poultry farmer Augustine Amankwaah, whose products are twice as expensive as EU imports, nevertheless remains confident: “We are currently facing major challenges. Because of the imported chicken the competition is very high!” In order to survive in the market, Augustine Amankwaah’s only option was to grow his own poultry feed, which is of better quality and thus justifies his poultry price to customers.

What is politics doing to improve the precarious situation in the poultry sector?

The Ghanaian government has reacted to the difficulties in the local poultry sector in recent years by increasing import duties on chicken feed, focusing on the cultivation of maize and soya in Ghana so as to no longer be dependent on imported feed, and introducing a quality label. “The government is aware of the challenges facing the poultry industry,” said Clement Kofi Humado, Ghanaian Minister of Food and Agriculture. To regulate the quantities and monitor the quality of imported chicken meat, a points system for informing customers was introduced by law in 2013.

Ghanaian farmers protest against EPA
Ghanaian farmers protest against EPA. (Photo source:


Role models in Cameroon and Senegal

In the West African country of Cameroon, the citizens’ initiative Association Citoyenne de Défense des Intérêts Collectifs (ACDIC) was able to score a success with their campaign “Chickens of Death” against massive cheap imports. Activists from ACDIC distributed flyers at markets throughout the country, had discussions with traders and consumers and organized demonstrations. The local media was also interested in the topic, with over 100 daily newspapers, radio stations and television reporting on the campaign. As a result, Cameroon’s government stopped issuing import licenses and abolished the value-added tax on domestic poultry products. This resulted in a significant decrease in poultry imports.

In Senegal a movement arose that was initiated by the rapper collective Awadi (feat. Kirikou), who protested against the economic agreement with the EU with their song “On signe pas” (“We won’t sign!”)

Awadi explained that his political song was created because of the authorities’ failure to respond to the repeated demands of society. Awadi responded to protests by the population, which had drawn attention to the impact on the African economy, giving them a prominent voice: “If these agreements are signed, they will condemn African economies to remain dependent on Europe,” Awadi said.

Didier Awadi
Didier Awadi, Rapper from Senegal (Photo copyright:

To protect the national industry and the young population, Nigeria was also able to defend itself against the EPAs. Nigeria’s president argued: „Our industries cannot compete with the more efficient and highly technologically driven industries in Europe.” And further: “We are not interested in signing the EPAs because of our mostly young population!

A few African countries have therefore been resolutely opposed to the agreement for years. This also gives hope for actions in Ghana to counteract the economic effects of European agricultural imports. Above all, investments in processing industries are of central importance to generate added value locally.