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We visit Mr. Akorli at his house in Tamale, Northern Ghana. I know him through one of our partners that currently support local poultry production. I explain him the objective of my visit and we start talking. Mr. Akorli is an old but vibrant man. He has just suffered from a stroke, but he clearly talks and explains his story.
Mr. Akorli started his poultry business in 1974. He started with breeding of layers to sell eggs as well as broilers. “I used to buy 300 to 400 broilers three times a year from Kumasi or from the Veteriny School in Tamale, I then grew them for 7 to 9 weeks and sold them during Eastern, Christmas and other big festivities. At that time, the industry was very vibrant and I could make a good profit out of it which I invested in new stock. My broiler business helped me to pay the education of my children.”
“I’m a member of the Northern Association of Poultry Farmers, a regional branch of the Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers. Through this association our inputs such as feeds and drugs are arranged and we can get access to loans from the bank. They also organised the selling, so that each of us could get a benefit. We meet periodically to discuss issues that affect our businesses. But we are no longer very active because of what has happened. Things started to change around 12 years ago, when Ghana started to import frozen chicken wings and legs. These chicken parts are much cheaper. For a whole carton you only paid 15 Ghc, while for one local chicken we pay around 8 Ghc. We, poultry farmers, started to get difficulties in selling our own chicken. People want cheap meat, which they can quickly prepare. But it is much less tastier than our local chicken, which you can kill yourself and prepare.”
“You know, Ghana is an open market economy, you can bring anything you want on the market. You see these chicken parts everywhere, in restaurants and fast food stores. Once I went out to a popular restaurant to sell my chicken, but they were not interested. So I walked away. Now I have stopped my broiler production, I only sell eggs on a daily basis.” Mr. Akorli points at the place where he used to grow his broilers. It is empty now, apart from a few bags and other stuff. “There is no market for my broilers anymore. Even the feed millers are affected. The broiler industry in Ghana is dead, I know. It is a nationwide issue.”
“I don’t know how this can be dealt with. We have tried everything, we have sent an appeal to the government telling them how this situation affected our business, but we did not get a favorable response. They know, some politicians are poultry growers themselves. But it is all because of the taxes and the trade policy. The government receives taxes, so they cannot stop it. You know, the EU countries dictate other countries: they tell them “We want to buy this from you, but you have to buy this from us”. In your countries your farmers are subsidised. Here we are not, so we cannot compete. You cannot afford to sell your produce for a lower price. That’s the situation right now and I don’t see any bright future. We will continue to be poor.”
Manon Stravens, Accra, 13 July 2010