How much the Ghanaian Market
is dependent on the European Union
is seen in the trading of Chicken parts.

Ghana – Poor through Extortion

The West African nation Ghana is a very good example of how globalization can decide the weal and woe of nations.  Very low prices for Ghanaian exports goods – raw materials and agricultural products especially cocoa, and high prices for imported goods or wares, con­sumer goods and Energy does not portray a good picture of the country’s balance of trade.  Another evil that has come up not long ago is what can be described as the “Chicken War” between European meat exporters and the local poultry farmers.  Despite drastic economic reforms, the nation is heavily indebted.  The per capita income in 2005 was 500 US Dollars but this has reduced.  The effect: Ghana is now among the poorest countries in the world.  About 75% of the population lives in poverty and about half of the said percentage live in object poverty.

Who actually profits from the cocoa?

The fact that the producer of the delicious cocoa is poor can be traced to the Western indus­trialized nations.  It is here that the manufacturing and adding value to the cocoa takes place and not in Ghana where the cultivation takes place. In Ghana today, the State Produce Buying Agencies only pay the cocoa farmers 72 % of the world market price, but the industrialized nations earn more on chocolate, the end product of cocoa than the cocoa producers themselves.

An example:
In 2005 cocoa farmers received 72 % of 1524,7 US Dollars per ton of raw cocoa, therefore 1097,8 US Dollars. In the same year a 250 gram packet cost averagely 2,32 Euros in Germany. A Ghanaian cocoa farmer however received 0,21 Euro for the same quantity, that is only 10%.  The real profit flows into the pocket of the Western industrialized nations who proc­essed the cocoa.  Currently, they no longer use the cocoa butter from the original producers of cocoa but rather use other facts.

The reason: 
In May 2000, the European Union (EU) decided that their member nations could use facts from cheaper tropical plants to replace cocoa butter in the manufacture of chocolates.  This therefore means that the demand for cocoa beans would reduce by about 200,000 tons.  This calculation was reached by the “European Fair Trade Association”.  And this figure applies only to Europe.  The more other nations follow this strategy, the more the demand for Ghana’s cocoa would reduce.  The governments’ strategy of fighting poverty cannot absorb the effect of this shock from outside. 

In spite of all these problems, Ghana remains an economically and politically stable nation.  That is why it receives a big support from the international donor community and also from Germany.  The German government also compensates the lost suffered by cocoa farmers brought about by their own chocolate industries.

Send no chicken !


Anyone who searches for dressed chicken in German supermarkets often does so in vain.  Whole chicken, chest or thigh which belong to category 3 – consequently from healthy ani­mals – are no problem.  The slaughter houses have however made their decisions with re­gard to the rest.   A small proportion is used in the good, cosmetics and medicinal industries, and the rest is shipped abroad to make profits.  Chicken feet, considered as delicacy, are sent to Ghana. Ghana and Togo are not left out, chicken wings, necks, feet and also thighs find their way to their markets, but at affordable prices, than the locally bred: 1,20 Euro per kilo as against 2,27 Euro for the Ghanaian ones.
One should know that for a poor nation, that is a good deed – anyone in Ghana who serves chicken at table raises his image but the opposite is the case.
That is true in two respects:  Health wise and economic wise.  The local poultry trader offers a whole hen for sale thereby guarantees freshness.  The importer also brings in the chicken parts.  In a country with high temperatures and high atmospheric humidity “dead” meat is an ideal breeding ground for germs and pathogenic agents.  And this applies mainly to im­ported chicken.
After the chicken parts have been discharged at the harbor, the greater part of the consign­ment is transported in open light carriage trucks with over 30 degrees temperature and 90 % atmospheric humidity to very far away market centers, which takes many hours. The poulterer in most cases does not have a reliable deep freezer – or the electric power might have once again gone off, so that the deep freezing chain is broken.

In Cameroon, a civil movement by name ACDIC has taken it upon themselves to examine the effect that the transportation conditions have on the meat.  The Abbreviation ACDIC stands for “Association Citoyenne de Défense des Intérêts collectives” (Association for the Defense of the common Interests).   They undertook 200 spot checks at 28 sales stands at different places in Cameroon and published their findings in March 2004: 

83.5 % of the chicken parts examined were not good for human consumption.  The microbe content was 180 fold over and above the highest value that the EU al­lowed for birds.

15 % spot checks revealed the presence of salmonellae, and almost every fifth examination found campylo bacteria (camphylobacter), which after salmonellae, is the second frequent cause of inflammatory diarrhea illness.  “A disaster for the health of the people”, the result from ACDIC concluded.
It can also become a disaster for the local breeding of birds when a massive enlightenment is not carried out to bring about a change.  Not only does the breeder loose the very foundation of his livelihood but will also be highly indebted when it comes to buying chicks and feed.  The decline in production has already disrupted or even destroyed the livelihood of the farmers (male and female) who cultivate the feed.  Work places have also been lost at the slaughter house stands where life birds are slaughtered, plucked and taken out. The Civil Association ACDIC’s ties dates or goes back to a partner organization of the German Evangelical Development Services with the name SAILD which means “Service d’Appui aux Initiatives Locales de Développements” (Service for supporting local Devel­opments and Initiatives).  The disconcerted worked under their roof jointly with political and convinced lobbyists to fight against the “Chicken of death” trade.  In Cameroon, this movement has already recorded some success.  Word has gone round about how dangerous the chicken parts are and among the population it is bad taste to offer chicken to European visitors. The demand for this meat has sunk drastically.

Ghana Under Pressure


The imports continue unabated to Ghana.  The Ghanaian Parliament received protests fol­lowing a decision to increase the import duty.  This however had to be changed following pressure from the World Bank and finally overturned in a new vote.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU) have therefore achieved their own de­clared objective of reducing poverty in the world.  The background to this unfortunate de­velopment manifests the conduct of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that their strong affirmation to fight poverty in the world has turned in the opposite direction.
With their opposition against the little increase in import duties on chicken – moreover on rice and tomatoes – the Ghanaian farmers in 2003 however were able to get the majority in parliament to agree to some increases on duties paid on some commodities.  The import duties on chicken and tomatoes went from 20 % to 40 % (i.e. doubled) and that on rice from 20 % to 25 % respectively.  This decision was made possible through the regulation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that saw an increase in duty as protection for ruinous cheap imports and therefore allowed it. Around the same time, in February 2003, Ghana negotiated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank over the reduction of her foreign debts.  Ghana also nego­tiated for a credit of 258 Million US Dollars for the next three years.  The prerequisite was that Ghana complies with its poverty reduction programme. To scrutinize that, a mission from the IMF and the World Bank visited Ghana.
During a meeting with the government of Ghana, the IMF representative was not happy at all with the decision of the Ghanaian parliament on the increase in duty on imported goods.  He “recommended” to the Finance Minister not to apply the said law on the grounds that it would endanger the “poor class in the towns and cities” because the goods would be expen­sive.  Just a week after parliament’s decision and the meeting with the IMF, the government of Ghana ordered the customs officials not to collect the increased customs duties, contrary to the interest and progress of the nation.  The farmers’ organizations in Ghana protested and asked whether democracy is only worthy when it is convenient to the international money lenders. In April 2003, the IMF once again met with the Ghanaian government in order to present the closing report and issue a press release about the success of Ghana’s efforts.  Also the EU Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lammy was in the capital Accra around the same time in order to speak against the government’s move at the beginning of the free trade agreement talks.  During a meeting with representatives of civil society, he also explained his disap­pointment over the decision of parliament to increase some tariffs on agriculture.  He also announced that he would share his criticism with the government. The following day, the Finance Minister of Ghana communicated in writing to the then IMF Director and Germany’s President today Horst Köhler that “the revisions have been made .......... and we stand ready to take further corrective actions that may be needed”.  The Gha­naian government has finally bowed to the pressure from the international money lender.

 

Emergency Bill / Law For Chicken And Tomatoes


The Poultry Farmers Association, with a membership of over 4,000 however never gave up.  They brought up an action against the Government for “negligence”.  The lawsuit dragged on for two years until a courageous woman judge in 2005 found the government guilty and asked the government to change the existing law or do something about it.  The government and the international donors reacted immediately. A new law was immediately drafted, intended to repeal the increase in import duty law.  The following day, it was brought up as a law that needed the urgent attention it deserved, and a week later, parliament met to deliberate on it.  The laws of Ghana allows for such a speedy legal proceedings only in cases of internal danger or when the country faces external aggres­sion or when there is a state of emergency.  The government explained the proceedings as an “Emergency Occurrence” because the judgment passed by the court could wreck nego­tiations with the country’s donors on the country’s indebtedness which can further endanger the security of the nation.  With 94 votes to 92, the emergency law against increasing tariffs on chicken and tomatoes imports was passed. Ghana’s poultry production in the meantime has gone to the dogs.  Whilst a few years ago, the local smallholders were able to produce 80 % of the domestic requirements, today it is only between 3 % and 5 %.  The Breeders Association is now trying to convince the pro­ducers about the policy in Europe that the EU has the full knowledge of the European chicken exports and that they are also aware that their so-called fighting poverty in the third world is going in the opposite direction.  The Ghanaian Minister of Lands (and Forestry), Mrs. Anna Nyamekye clearly stated in an interview with the “Frankfurter Rundschau” in June 2007:  “Do you know why Venezuela can put up a fierce resistance?  Because it has oil!  We would also have gladly done likewise”.

Sources:
Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst
Norddeutsche Mission
Frankfurter Rundschau
“Weltspiegel” der ARD
Accra Mail

 

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