The Republic of Ghana in West Africa is bordered on the north by Burkina Faso, on the west by the Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire), on the south by the Gulf of Guinea and on the east by Togo. The name Ghana means “Warrior King” and comes from the ancient Ghana Empire.
Known predominantly as the world’s second largest cocoa producer, Ghana is increasingly entering the coffee market. Ghana’s relatively small coffee production made it the third smallest coffee producer in sub-Saharan Africa behind Liberia and the Central African Republic (which produce about 600 tons each annually).
The primary coffee plant varietal historically grown in Ghana is Robusta which is considered to be a lower grade coffee than Arabica. This is likely to be a persistent problem, as even at the highest points Ghana only reaches about 400 meters above sea level – well below the 1,200+ meters required for the best Arabica coffees to be grown. Robusta coffees however, will flourish at the lower elevations.
All are dwarfed by Ethiopia’s Arabica coffee production of more than 250,000 tons in a single harvest season (typically from October to September). The only country to surpass Ghana in cocoa production is the Ivory Coast which picks about 132,000 tons of coffee in a harvest season.
Ghana Green Coffee
Around 2006 Ghana made efforts to double its green coffee production to 3,000 metric tons and expand acreage planted in coffee to nearly 5,000 acres. In 2010 the Ghana Cocoa Board (cocobod) hunkered down again and targeted 6,000 metrics tons by 2015, which it achieved. As of 2016, president Mahama has indicated he would be working to increase output to 100,000 metric tonnes in the “medium term”, naming 2021 as the target date. This exponential growth requires massive investment not only in the farms themselves, but also the infrastructure to support it and outreach to promote it.
This sort of planned volume would put Ghana in a competitive position in the international coffee market. Selectively putting their best coffees into competitions would help get it recognized as a producer to be taken seriously by third-wave coffee shops in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.
Ghana Coffee Regions
The regions being targeted for growth are those that wouldn’t directly compete for cocoa production – their primary cash crop – and are labeled “marginal” for cocoa production. The idea being that while cocoa requires between 1,200 mm to 2,000 mm of rainfall anually, coffee can be grown with as little as 1,000 mm with supplemental irrigation.
The regions include:
- Eastern and Central areas of Ashanti and Brong Ahafo
- Kete Krachi
It’s hoped that if the 2021 target can be reached using high-yield, early-maturing coffee seeds, growth can continue through 2030 to 200,000 metric tonnes.
Ghana Coffee Facts
Ghana is aiming for a yield of 2-3 metric tonnes of green coffee beans per hectare, with 100,000 hectares planted by 2020.
In 2016 the government has purchased and is managing 5,000,000 seedlings selected for high-yields and early-maturation, which it will distribute for free to farmers.
In the 1997-1998 harvest season Ghana exported 10,000 metric tons but then exports declined due to various causes including a poor pricing policy as well as declining world coffee market prices.
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