Maize is the most important cereal crop on the domestic market in Ghana however it is only the 7th largest agricultural commodity in terms of value of production over the period 2005-2010 accounting for 3.3 percent of total agricultural production value (FAOSTAT, 2012).
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), root crops such as yam, cassava and cocoyam, together with plantains are by far more relevant in terms of production value due to their paramount importance in the Ghanaian diet.
Maize accounts for 55 percent of grain output followed by paddy rice (23 percent), sorghum (13 percent) and millet (9 percent).
Maize is also an important component of poultry feed and to a lesser extent the livestock feed sector as well as a substitute for the brewing industry.
Maize average yield registered by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2010 was 1.9 Mt/ha against an estimated achievable yield1 of around 2.5 to 4 Mt/ha (Ministry of Food and Agriculture, 2010).
Maize production over the period 1990-2010 shows significant increases starting from year 2008.
However, it was not possible to explain to what extent the production increase was due to the favorable rain patterns, the introduction of the fertilizer subsidy in 2008, the high food prices which could have stimulated domestic production over the period 2008-2010.
Maize is grown throughout Ghana however the leading producing areas are mainly in the middle-southern part (Brong Ahafo, Eastern and Ashanti provinces) where 84 percent of the maize is grown, with the remaining 16 percent being grown in the northern regions of the country (Northern, Upper East and Upper West areas).
Figures from indexmundi
Domestic maize production seems to be meeting the local demand for human consumption.
The maize supply in Ghana has been increasing steadily over the past few years with an average supply at 1.4 million MT over the period 2005-2010.
However, human consumption is competing with the poultry industry and to a lesser extent the livestock industry.
While there is no reliable data for maize used in animal feed, the Government of Ghana estimates that 85 percent of all maize grown in Ghana is destined for human consumption and the remaining 15 percent is used for the animal feeding sector (mainly poultry).
Data obtained from major feed mills in Ghana indicates that about 250 000 MT of maize is used for poultry feed annually.
This is in line with the data on consumption of white maize in 2006 where the poultry industry absorbed 170 000 MT (Table 1) of domestic production.
Figure 5 below shows a deficit of around 110 000 metric MT in 2006 which most probably was compensated mainly with informal imports of maize given the negligible volumes of formal imports in 2006.
The same deficit of around 115 000 metric tons has been registered in year 2010 (Table 2).
In the North, millet and sorghum are the main cereals produced and consumed, but in times of scarcity maize, which is usually a surplus crop, is used as a substitute for these grains.
White maize consumption is projected to increase due to population growth and increasing per capita income.
Based on the most recent domestic production data, the shortfall between domestic production and domestic consumption would reach 267 000 Mt by 2015 in case there is no productivity improvement (MOFA, 2011).
This deficit will mostly affect consumers in urban areas and the poultry industry.