Economic reforms in Ghana have been successful in promoting investment and trade and maintaining a healthy pace of economic growth. Nonetheless, the distribution of benefits from economic growth has been uneven. For example, poverty rates in the northern regions of Ghana remain stubbornly high, even as poverty in the center and south has declined. Northern Ghana also suffers from inadequate infrastructure, unreliable rainfall, and weak economic connections to the more developed regions to the south. IFAD and the African Development Bank are supporting the Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP), a project to improve infrastructure and develop value chains that link farmers in the north with markets in the south and outside the country. Another major IFAD project is the Roots and Tubers Improvement Programme, designed to raise the productivity of cassava and yam production while improving the efficiency of marketing channels.
After consultations with local stakeholders, the market-access component of the IFAD-IFPRI Partnership has begun to focus on three activities. First, it will help the NRGP establish baseline information on rural households in the north. This will be accomplished via an analysis of recent household surveys, particularly the Ghana Living Standards Survey and the Demographic and Health Survey, as well as through primary data collection on input use, marketing patterns, credit, information sources, and other topics of relevance to the NRGP implementation. Second, the Partnership will help develop a geographic information systems (GIS) database with which to integrate information about the NRGP project area. This will be useful for project management and will also serve as a foundation for identifying development domains and options for scaling up interventions. Third, the Partnership will conduct an impact evaluation of improved access to market information via mobile phones. By randomizing the villages to receive improved access, the study will allow rigorous testing of the impact on prices, marketed surplus, and income.
Regarding climate change mitigation in Ghana, the program will focus on strategy- or policy-level entry points and on-ground experiments. An important issue in designing program activities is to define the role of, and complementary relationship between, adaptation and mitigation responses to climate change. In addition, the IFAD–IFPRI program will learn from and base its climate-change activities on already existing projects, as much work has already been done in Ghana on climate change. It is important that IFAD–IFPRI program innovations not overlap with existing climate-change activities. Potential focus areas in Ghana include examining biofuels, the prospects for voluntary schemes and markets, an analysis of the cost of bush fires and ways to reduce them, and the possibilities for entering the carbon-mitigation market through fruits such as mango and papaya that are grown in the north. For more information, read the IFAD-IFPRI Partnership Ghana country brief.