No Meat, No Show:  Yakubu’s Cash Cow

Happy reading!

There is a simmering pot of tomato gravy-glazed diced meat. The tilted lid of the pot reveals bubbles popping over cheeky green peppers. The meat is giving out its juices while the sauce is enriching the meat with its flavours. A perfect affair! The sight is sending signals down your throat, you are salivating already. All this is happening because your butcher came to work today to serve you.
A pot of Ghanaian soup or stew is never complete without any of our favourite animal protein picks; chevon, beef, mutton, chicken, pork or fish. For the largely non-vegetarian community in Ghana, it is fair to coin the slogan ‘No meat, no show’ because meat is considered the centre of attraction on dining tables and for festivities. But, ever thought about the trade that brings ‘the show’ to your table?
The RDF Monitoring Team made our first visit to a butchery this year. Yakubu Moro, a butcher at Offinso Kokote was our host. He welcomed us with a warm smile. Set before us were huge chunks of fresh beef ready to be sold. Just like the typical Ghanaian Butcher, Yakubu works in a stall with his working bench set up before him. He had different types of specialized knives and a cutlass at reach. He rubbed the blades of his knives against each other in readiness to serve a customer who had approached his stall. His service delivery was a delight to watch.

Zakari Apart from his warmth, Yakubu gave us a lasting memory of his transparency. The team observed with curiosity stacks of creased and discoloured pieces of paper pinned atop the right corner of his stall. Papers that can be traced back to years, papers? Why papers? Why are they pinned? We enquired. Yakubu said,

I like to be honest in my dealings so I ensure to pay all statutory levies required for my operations. At any point in time when I am asked to give an account of my observance of the law, I have my proof readily available above my head. So, I have no fears.

The papers were receipts of all the statutory levies he had paid since the commencement of his business. He was confident that though they were worn out they would still be useful proof any day.

Yakubu is a beneficiary of RDF’sLlines of Credit through Nwabiagya Rural Bank. He used his loan to purchase meat for his business. He has been in the business for 30 years. He travels to Buipe in the Northern Region each week to source meat. Yakubu transports 7 animals (mostly cattle, sometimes goats) weekly to be prepared for his customers.

A 2016 study conducted on Meat production and consumption in the Wa Municipality of Ghana showed that

“Beef was the most preferred type of meat, followed by poultry, chevon mutton and pork and guinea fowl. Majority of the consumers (78.8%) buy and consume meat daily. Most consumers (60%) in the Municipality obtained their meat from the market referred to as the butcher.”

According to the study, taste, price, availability, tradition and nutrition are the factors which most influence the consumption of meat in Ghana.

In a more recent study, in 2018, poultry was found to be the most consumed type of meat at the national level, followed by beef,  chevon and mutton according to Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).

Background

Butchers are central to the provision of meat for consumer purchase irrespective of economic class and budget. Although statistics are not readily clear on how many Ghanaians are employed in butchery, a good number of people are employed in the industry, with some of them deriving their sole source of income from it, just like Yakubu Moro. RDF asked Yakubu whether his trade was profitable.

Yes it is profitable but it largely depends on a number of factors.

In the last year, various branches of the National Butchers Association have spoken in the media about some of these factors Yakubu spoke about in our meeting with him. In the latest news report of the industry in late August 2022 (ghanabusinessnews.com), butchers in Ghana have urged the government to redeem the falling cedi. The Association said the livestock industry was not able to produce enough for local consumption, hence their reliance on Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali for their animals. The butchers trade in CFA and the falling Cedi affects the stability of prices and hence their margins.

The Future

The Business and Livelihoods in African Livestock document (2014) makes 3 salient points which every agricultural enthusiast should look out for in predicting the future of the livestock industry.

  1. By 2030, the value of agriculture and agribusiness industries in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to reach US$ 1 trillion, compared to US$ 313 billion in 2010, of which a non-marginal share will come from the livestock sector.
  2. Livestock accounts for between 50 and 60 percent of the agricultural value added. It is increasingly recognized that the growth of agriculture and agribusiness, including the livestock industry, is key to reducing poverty.
  3. A large share of Africa’s poor is made up of smallholder farmers, the majority of which keep animals. Increased livestock productivity can improve the livelihoods of these producers; higher production also translates into lower food prices, to the clear benefit of the majority of households who are buyers of animal protein.

With these indicators, livestock production and butchery for that matter look exciting. Agriculture is truly business.

While RDF is working with butchers to fully explore the potential of this promising industry, the organization is concerned about the myriad of issues butchers are facing, especially regarding public health safety. Public health safety has become a matter of global concern and is highly relevant in butchery. In the last decade, some of the outbreaks that have ravaged the world have been said by experts to have originated from some animals like bats, monkeys and poultry. As part of our technical assistance programme, we are building a community of agro-food handlers who will benefit from training to help them deliver quality to the Ghanaian market while their wellbeing is given the needed priority as well.

Despite the glaring challenges, Yakubu wears a genuine smile and it inspires us. We invite you to help us make the future billion-dollar industry better today. Yakubu cannot wait!

 

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The Marketplace Nurtures Soft Skills: A Focus On Adaptability and Resilience at the Kumasi Central Market

RDF Ghana LBG is pleased to take our readers on yet another market visit. Our destination this week is the Kumasi Central Market.

The Kumasi Central Market is known as one of the biggest markets in West Africa. It is an open-air market in the city of Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region in Ghana. The market is a major trading centre which is visited by up to 800,000 people daily from Ghana and the nearby countries like Benin and Togo[1].

The huge Central Market in Kumasi is a cherished workplace for more than 20,000 traders[2]. In this market, you will find two beneficiaries of RDF Ghana, Beatrice Acheampong and Patience Arthur plying their trade. Both women are clients of Nwabiagya Rural Bank (NRB), a partner financial institution of RDF that accessed a line of credit facility to lend to businesses in the agricultural value chains.

The expert manner in which her wares are displayed shows that Beatrice understands the terrain well. Beatrice is a two-time beneficiary of RDF Ghana’s lines of credit. She currently trades in vegetables and spices. To survive in the competitive and dynamic market, Beatrice demonstrates adaptability by being a ‘seasonal’ trader; she cashes-in on the most sought after food item for each season. During the Senior High School reopening periods, for instance, she capitalizes on the demand for black pepper sauce (shitor) to sell shrimps, the main ingredient for this sauce. She is a resilient and quick-witted entrepreneur who makes the most of every turning tide.

Patience Arthur is a seasoned trader selling maize, rice. and beef in the market. She has benefited from four cycles of RDF’s line of credit facility through NRB. Like Beatrice, Patience adapts to capitalize on changing market conditions. In Patience’s case, she deals majorly in the sale of rice so she is almost always in business since rice is a daily meal throughout Ghana, especially in the urban areas. In spite of this, she has her own adjustments to make when it comes to pricing and the availability of rice.

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, in Ghana, the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector employs more than 80% of the workforce and accounts for  70% of the national output.[3]  Market women are playing their part in this share. In a more gender-specific report on female entrepreneurs, the 2021 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE), has for the third time reported that Ghana is one of the top three economies in the world with the most female entrepreneurs, coming third after Botswana and Uganda respectively[4]. The research further indicated that women entrepreneurs in Africa are resilient and adaptable, a trait exhibited by Beatrice and Patience.

In a study on the role of market women in the informal urban economy and the factors that threaten the effective performance of their roles, the authors interviewed 360 foodstuff sellers from the Kumasi Central Market and the Racecourse Market all in Kumasi The research found that:

 

 

“Market women had made significant contributions towards Ghana’s fiscal decentralisation through the payment of levies and rents. They have also created jobs, provided incomes for households, ensured food security and sufficiency, and provided a platform for generational development of entrepreneurial skills and competence.

Women like Beatrice and Patience are required to adjust to the ever-changing market conditions to remain in business. Many of these women may not be able to properly document or express how they keep afloat but, clearly, they demonstrate tenacity and resilience that enables them to observe the changing circumstances and take the needed action. Even though Baah-Ennumh and Adom-Asamoah (2012) in their research found that market women play the aforementioned key roles, their roles in the informal economy were constrained by the inadequate basic infrastructure in the markets, limited access to credit facilities and transportation difficulties .[5] The marketplace is a case of survival of the fittest for many of these women. Beatrice and Patience are required to adjust to consumer preferences/needs, increasing prices and the scarcity of goods. They do not have the opportunity to influence the factors that determine their survival in business. Yet, they cannot quit because their livelihoods, that of their dependants and the sustainability of the market depends on women like them – they have a sense of responsibility to their customers and to a larger extent, their families and they cannot fail them.

RDF Ghana is addressing the constraints related to access to credit facilities to ensure that traders like Beatrice and Patience thrive. So far, RDF Ghana has invested GHS 6.82 Million in MSMEs involved in trading of food stuffs, representing 32.5% of disbursements made since 2018. Gracia Clarke, in her field study of the Kumasi Central Market, describes the market as community, employer and home. If this description is anything to go by, then life in the marketplace should be worth the time for women who have been found to enjoy making a living there. According to her,

 

Some said they had more leisure and stability in the market than at home, juggling the constant demands of children, husband, and landlord

She added that markets thrive because they mediate significant kinds of differences in access to resources.

The markets bridge these differences (in ecology, wealth, class, and ethnicity) not by erasing them but by taking advantage of them, often in ways that perpetuate or intensify them.

Year after year, RDF is building a community of stakeholders who are working in the interest of the market woman and the Ghanaian economy by availing lines of credits to its partner financial institutions who break the bulk and on lend to women doing the most in Agric like Beatrice and Patience. Welcome aboard!

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