Enhancing food security in Northern Ghana through smallholder small ruminant production and marketing

K. Amankwah

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU



Key words

Livestock markets, technical and institutional constraints, innovation systems, veterinary services; smallholder farmers; structural adjustment, scaling out, co-learning, supplementary feeding,  herd growth, food security, positive deviants, commercialization, Ghana.


Smallholder livestock production systems in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries are very important because a large share of the rural poor keep livestock, livestock can contribute to improved soil fertility and household food security, and there is rapid growth in demand and  market for livestock products. As elsewhere, almost 80% of smallholder farmers in Northern Ghana keep livestock, especially small ruminants (i.e. sheep and goats). The high demand for livestock products at the national level remains unexploited by the farmers. This thesis sought to examine 1) the salient technical and institutional constraints that hinder innovation with respect to improved production and market participation of smallholder small ruminant farmers in Lawra and Nadowli districts in Northern Ghana, and 2) how previous interventions and farmers themselves sought to address the constraints.


The thesis proceeded from a broad diagnosis of the technical and institutional constraints to market participation. Then, detailed empirical  studies were conducted on the emergent issues. Three main constraints were prioritized by farmers i.e. water shortage during dry season, high mortality and theft of livestock. The corresponding institutional limitations include weak structure of veterinary services delivery, and weak traditional and formal justice delivery structures. As a result of the constraints, a majority of farmers keep livestock to support crop production and consequently invest minimally in animal husbandry. Few farmers changed from minimal to moderate investment as a result of accumulated experiences and recorded significant herd growth, but then, did not enlarge the volume of their market share. The main conclusion was that household food security is the principal driver of smallholder small ruminant production and that market demand is only a marginal driver. The thesis also showed that self-organization of smallholder producers and the support systems in which they are embedded was quite effective in response to the different institutional constraints that these face, but that self-organisation has not been captured and built upon in interventions. Furthermore,  farmers select or generate intervention elements that were useful to resolving the constraints they cared about. However, interventionists were often inflexible in the planning and implementation of projects and paid little attention to feedback and changes in the broader social and institutional surroundings. Among other things, the thesis recommended a more inclusive approach to livestock development and interventions to resolve the broader social and institutional conditions that hem in smallholder farmers to uncompetitive husbandry practices.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • van der Zijpp, Akke, Promotor
  • Klerkx, Laurens, Co-promotor
  • Sakyi-Dawson, O., Co-promotor, External person
  • Karbo, N., Co-promotor, External person
Award date12 Dec 2013
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789461738202
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • ruminants
  • food security
  • goat keeping
  • sheep farming
  • small farms
  • animal production
  • animal husbandry
  • marketing
  • ghana


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