This study presents a detailed review of the poultry sector in Ghana with an aim to provide in depth information on the linkages in the production chain and the role of the poultry sector in the national
economy. Information on the history and current status of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and the institutional experiences in the prevention and control of recent outbreaks are also
reviewed. Published and grey literature, various reports and official documents were used in the preparation of this review.
Another objective of this study is to provide information to assist the formulation of national and international strategies for minimizing the impacts of HPAI outbreaks and threats, especially on the
livelihoods of resource-poor smallholder farmers. Livelihood patterns and strategies in Ghana are typically linked to the ecological zones with livestock keeping, rain-fed and subsistence agriculture being key elements. Village poultry constitute the largest sub-sector, comprising some 25 million free-roaming and scavenging chickens, guinea fowls, ducks and turkeys owned by 66% of the 3.7 million households in Ghana. These poultry are kept for cash and food, and marketed at farm gate or in wet markets by retailers. The major constraints to village chicken rearing are predation and Newcastle Disease, against which the I2 vaccination programme was already introduced.
Commercial production (with exotic breeds) is categorized as large scale (industrial), medium scale and small-scale producers. Large scale producers are largely integrated with their own hatcheries,
feed mills, processing units and marketing outlets. There are currently five such large scale, industrial farms in Ghana.
The medium and small-scale producers depend on the industrial farms for day-old chicks (DOC), feed and sometimes broiler bird processing. They are also supplied by either commercial feed millers or importers of DOC and veterinary drugs and feed supplements.
Processing of broilers is limited to whole, frozen birds, although there is an emerging trend towards further processing into sausages, nuggets and other value-added products. While broiler production is on the decline, as a result of competition with cheaper imported frozen poultry meat, egg production is showing an increasing trend. Across all the poultry production systems biosecurity is poor, however vaccination programmes against various poultry diseases have generally been effective.
The major countries exporting poultry meat to Ghana include Brazil, the United States of America, and the member countries of the European Union. Together these account for 75% of the total
poultry imports. Imported poultry products are usually sold through well organized, cold chains present in the cities and other urban centres.
The three outbreaks of HPAI in Ghana were effectively controlled by the Veterinary Services Directorate, with support from donor agencies, and co-ordination of the Avian Influenza Working
Group. Information on the symptoms and risks of HPAI was made available to the public through the local media, workshops, pamphlets, skits and sketches. The government compensated those
farmers whose birds were culled. However, it is envisaged that the future compensation payments will be linked to the level of biosecurity (or the lack of it). Ghana is still in a state of high alert due to the circulation of the HPAI virus in West Africa.