Graphic Business News

Cattle imports to threaten local production

By: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Many depend on cattle rearing as a source of livelihood in Ghana.
Many depend on cattle rearing as a source of livelihood in Ghana.

The Chamber of Agribusiness, Ghana (CAG) has noted that the government’s decision to open the country’s market to cattle from the United States of America (USA) can have huge implications and is likely to disrupt the cattle industry in the country.

The CAG said the local cattle industry could not compete against the cheaper cost of foreign meat and might lead to job losses.

“The government will argue that they want to protect the consumer from high cost of food (meat), but Ghana's diary industry will take a hit, and this will lead to economic, social and security issues,” the Executive President of the CAG, Farmer Anthony Selorm Morrison, said in an interview in Accra.

He stated that considering the huge value chain of the industry, including cattle keepers, the abattoirs, butchers, food preparation, milk processors and consumers, coupled with all the farmers whose livelihoods were dependent on the sector, especially in the northern part of Ghana, it

“As our past and immediate history shows, we shall denigrate local production and rely on beef and dairy imports. One doesn’t have to be an economist to predict the impact on the local economy in terms of job creation and currency stability,” he indicated.

The Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report states that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), on June 21, 2018, confirmed the acceptance of a US Agriculture Department (USDA)-proposed Veterinary Health Certificate for the export of cattle from the US.

It said that bilateral protocol paved the way for suppliers and investors who were keen to develop domestic cattle and diary industries in Ghana.

The GAIN said in collaboration with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the online International Regulations (IRegs) for Animal Product Exports was up to date to reflect that development.

 “As Ghana’s population continues to grow, urbanise and steadily demand a more diversified diet, the country struggles to meet growing demand for dairy products. Aside from yoghurt, fresh diary is still a rarity for many Ghanaian consumers,” the report stated.

Farmer Morrison called for a very dispassionate and open consultation among the government, the USDA and stakeholders in the local cattle industry.

He said the government and stakeholders must push for strategic partnership, knowledge and technology transfer and local agribusiness content policy.

“We are somewhat predestined to repeat past mistakes and fail to learn from others like Rwanda. Our local cattle have more resistance to diseases and the climate, hence any introduction of foreign breeds must be disease tolerant,” he added. — GB