Friday, February 17, 2012

Lit in Review: Ghanaian Agriculture

Egyir, Adu-Nyako, and Okafor examine how the "Made in USA" poultry label affects consumer choice in Ghana. Among the statistics they offer, domestic production accounts for 10% of the poultry market. In 2010, the local price was just under $4/lb while imports cost under $1.10/lb Costs could be brought down with better management and vaccine delivery. Two decades ago, fish provided 60% of the animal protein they consumed, but poultry has been growing in importance. Most of the chickens (60%) are bought directly from the farm, with supermarkets only serving the high income group. The poultry packing industry is in its extreme infancy.

500 consumers were surveyed about their attitudes on how likely they were to purchase domestic chicken, versus Tyson (US), Brazilian, European, or Asian chicken. 56% were likely to buy Made in the USA, and 72% to buy Ghanaian. Asian chicken did not score very highly. More than 80% recognized COOL chicken. (That's Country of Origin Labeling, not the fellow on the right.)

Here is Kris Klokkenga's description of the differences between trying to farm in Illinois and in Ghana:

While I was home, I spent a few hours running the combine with GPS and mapping capabilities. Our grain was hauled to the local elevator with a tractor and large wagons over paved roads. The vertical tillage was run with an auto-steer tractor equipped with push-button multiple functions.

Harvest in Ghana was nowhere near that sophisticated or that simple. This was our first commercial crop, and we operate in a continual state of learning. ... we used a New Idea 325 2RN corn picker. (The same type of picker that Grandpa used 50 years ago.) ... Due to limited road infrastructure, we hauled our ear corn in 50-lb. bags in a large wooden boat from our farm’s lake landing to a port 10 miles downriver. From there it was unloaded from the boat onto a truck where it was transported 20 miles to a neighbor’s farm where it was dried and bagged. All commodities in Ghana are packaged and sold in 50-kg (110-lb.) bags. Corn maintains a steady sale price of $9-12/bu. ... It took one month to complete the harvest of our first 90 acres of corn in Ghana... .
Dessy, Gohou, and Vencatachellum discuss the Land Grab, which they more correctly title "Foreign Direct Investments in Africa's Farmlands". They construct a model to examine under what conditions land grabbing will be an improvement in the welfare of the rural populations in the affected region. From their abstract:
We build an occupational choice model featuring four mechanisms driving these effects. First, local farming is subject to social arrangements prescribing that farmers share their crop surplus with kin. Second, proceeds from land investment deals are invested to make modern inputs affordable to local farmers. Third, these deals cause some farmers to shift to wage employment. Fourth, they also entrench export-oriented agriculture, at the expense of local markets. We show that three conditions are sufficient for such deals to make local people better off: (i) the state has a high capacity and willingness to negotiate deals that benefit local people; (ii) these deals create enough jobs; (iii) wage employment make displaced farmers better off.
Okay, so let's get out our usual measures and ask how likely it is that the affected governments have "high capacity" and are willing to work for the locals' benefit. Even to get this far, they make that second assumption that the government is using the money from the sale to finance investments in modernizing domestic agriculture. This investment is what is supposed to "create enough jobs." They decide that Malawi could get a win-win from the land grab, but that Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan almost certainly wouldn't. On the other hand, remember that these are sufficient conditions, not necessary ones.

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