Ghana: the New Frontier in Agriculture Investing

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Ghana's $45 billion economy is the seventh biggest in sub-Saharan Africa and according to World Bank projections, will expand by 8.3% this year.  This rise gives the small West African country the fastest growth rate on the continent. In order to improve the investment climate for international investors, Ghana has implemented several ambitious reforms. To date, these efforts are paying off as Ghana was ranked the best place for doing business in West Africa, ahead of Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, according to the 2017 Ease of Doing Business Report.Ghana is one of the most politically stable countries in West Africa and has been a multiparty democracy since 1992. The country ranks 26th globally and 2nd in Africa in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

The cornerstone of Ghana's economy is agriculture, which has a greater impact on poverty reduction than any other sector employing roughly 48% of the total workforce. It is the main catalyst for rural development and increasing environmental sustainability.  Agriculture production provides structure for the country's social stabilization and an economic buffer during economic shocks. The strength of the agricultural sector is comprised of a diversity of commodities, a well-endowed drainage basin, a well-established  research and development system, and access to European markets. Investments in agro-processing and infrastructure have strengthened the sector. Ghana offers a number of tax incentives favorable to foreign investors to include tax holidays that range from 5-10 years from the start of an investment depending on crop type. 

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The country is classified into three main agriculture zones. The forest vegetation zone consists of parts of Western, Eastern, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions. The northern savanna vegetation zone includes the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Region while the coastal savanna includes mainly the Central, Greater Accra and parts of Volta Region.  Cocoa, coffee, oil palm, cashew, rubber, plantain, banana, and citrus crops are mostly cultivated in the forest zones where rainfall is very heavy. Ghana is the world's second largest cocoa producer. Important to this industry is the Ghana Cocoa Board, whose mission "is to encourage and facilitate the production, processing and marketing of good quality cocoa, coffee and sheanut."

One of the greatest challenges to Ghanaian agriculture is the lack of access to capital. Commercial bank loans for agriculture charge as high as 25-30% interest.  Private investments in agriculture are critical for Ghana's economic growth, reducing poverty and inequality, while providing jobs and boosting the country's food security.