450px-Flag of Ghana.svgAgricultural extension in Ghana has gone through political shift from export commodity development approach prior to independence in 1957 to the promotion of food crop production. The Government shift in focus intended to modernize traditional farming practices, transfer resources and technology, and train personnel to address extension needs of peasant farmers. The Ministry–based general extension approach adopted in 1978 came under heavy criticism. The approach was viewed as a top-down and pro-urban, and was believed to pay more attention to progressive farmers, while totally neglecting poorer small farmers and women. The lack of coordination amongst various departments within the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and the poor management of the general extension approach coupled with the lack of well-trained extension workers and the poor quality of infrastructures, called for a reform of the system (Okorley, 2007).


A Brief History of Public Extension Policies, Resources and Advisory Activities in Ghana

In response to criticisms and external pressure from the World Bank, The government of Ghana reformed the general extension system and adopted a new nationwide agricultural extension approach called the Unified Extension System (UES) that came together with the training and visit (T&V) extension management system approach. Under the UES-T&V approach, MOFA was reorganized and unified and extension was put under one department at the national level, the Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES). The lack of coordination and weak linkages resulting from the fact that the DAES and research institutions were under separate ministries was quickly noticed. An evaluation of the T&V approach indicated that in the pilot region were it was implemented; the T&V approach did not improve extension effectiveness. The approach was criticized as being rigid and non-responsive to the needs of the farmers nationally. It was then recommended that for extension to achieve greater improvement in the livelihoods of rural population in Ghana, the organization needed to focus broadly on farm production and income, farmer household livelihoods, and the nutrition or the rural population (MOFA, 2001). These recommendations resulted in the decentralization of agricultural extension in Ghana.

Extension services were then organized and delivered in a variety of forms and the purpose of the decentralization introduced in Ghana in 1997 was to develop a demand driven extension system, with the ultimate goal of increasing farmers’ productivity and income. As a result, the MOFA transferred power to the district level offices so that they could plan and implement their agricultural extension activities and manage their resources within the framework of national policy (Okorley, 2007). Responsibilities, including service provision and administration were transferred to the agricultural unit of the District Assemblies (lowest level of government administration), while the regional and national level administration focused on policy planning, coordination, technical support, monitoring and evaluation (MOFA, 1997). The district level extension organization provides the best opportunity to effectively involve stakeholders to promote pluralism and it is now central to agriculture and rural development in Ghana.

Today, agricultural extension approaches in Ghana range from the top-down commodity-based approaches to more participatory approaches like the World Bank's Training and Visit (T&V), commodity participatory approaches, the farmer field schools (FFSs), the innovative ICT based approaches which provide advice to farmers on-line, and the promotion of mobile phones and community radio stations. These approaches have been promoted over the years by the various extension service providers, including government (MOFA, the main actors in extension), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), producer organizations and other farmer organizations.

For many years, the Ministry of Agriculture has used its staff from the national level down to the field level to implement extension programs. With the decentralization leading to the transfer of power to the district level offices, MOFA also transferred resources including staff to district offices. This transfer reduced the level of involvement of the ministries and the number of technical staff for coordination activities. At the national level, Ghana public extension comprises 50 staff members and is managed by a team of 9 senior staff according to the MEAS report (2011). Seven of the senior staff members have a PhD and the remaining two staff was trained at the Master of Science level. Women account for 22% of senior management staff.  There are 5 subject matter specialists; they are trained at the Bachelor and Master Degree levels. Field level extension workers constitute the bulk of staff (72%), with the majority of them holding a 2 to 3 year agricultural diploma, and 3% are female. There are two other groups of workers: Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) Support Staff and In-Service Training Staff.  The MEAS report indicated that the public sector does not employ in-service training staff, and ICT support services personnel (Table 1).

Table 1: Human Resources in the Public Extension Service in Ghana (Governmental or Ministry-based Extension Organization)

Major Categories of Extension Staff Secondary School diploma 2-3 yr. Ag diploma B.Sc. degree M.Sc./Ing. Agr. degree Ph.D. degree
Gender F M F M F M F M F M
Senior Management Staff 23 68 1
Subject Matter Specialists (SMS) 9 23 31 112
Field Level Extension Staff 12 250 582 30 95 1 4
Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) Support Staff 3
In-Service Training Staff
Total Extension Staff:   1244                     12 259 605 87 275 2 4 0 0

Source: IFPRI/FAO/IICA Worldwide Extension Study, 2011

Extension Providers

Major Institutions Providing Extension/advisory Services in the Country

Public Sector

The public sector is represented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology (MEST), several universities and research institutions around the country. These institutions provide extension services through various departments councils and institutes some of which are listed below:

Public Extension Institutions

  • Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA
    • Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES)
  • Ministry of Environment Science and Technology (MEST)
    • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
  • Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD)
    • Regional Coordinating Council (RCC)
    • Metropolitan and Municipal District Assemblies
  • Public Research Institutions
    • ASTI Agricultural Research and Development
      • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research  
    • Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension (SAFE)
    • Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG)
    • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
      • Water Research Institute (WRI)
      • Soil Research Institute (SRI)
      • Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI)
      • Plant Genetic Resources Centre (PGRC)
      • Oil Palm Research Institute (OPRI)
      • Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG)
      • Food Research Institute (FRI)
      • Crops Research Institute (CRI)
      • Animal Research Institute (ARI)
    • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
    • University of Development Studies (UDS)
    • University of Ghana (UG)
      • Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER)
      • Faculty of Agricultur

Non-Public Sector

Private Sector Firms
In many countries including Ghana, the private sector has always been known to perform better than all service providers to farmers. The main reason behind the great performance is that private sector can afford the resources needed to either train personnel or simply deliver the programs to the clients. The private sector has always partnered with the government institutions to bring innovative techniques to farmers. The sector’s provision of extension and advisory services is noticeable in the areas of input supply to farmers; contract to provide technical advises to farmers associations and cooperatives; organizing farmers groups to facilitate export of commercial crops.   

Non-Governmental Organizations and other Donors
Ghana is one of the fast growing economies in Africa. The agricultural sector plays a vital role in this country and the need to support this sector is more than evident. NGOs have the reputation of assisting both governments and farmers in the production, processing and marketing of agricultural commodities. In Ghana, many NGOs (both local and international) are working in partnership with other stakeholder to provide agricultural extension and advisory services to farmers. Some of the NGOs working directly in the agricultural sector and local extension services include:

  • Africare
  • CARE International
  • Christian Relief Service
  • HarvestPlus
  • Presbyterian Agricultural Services, Temale
  • Fintrac
  • Action aid
  • Care Gulf Agriculture and natural Resources (CGGANR)
  • Abrono Organic farming Project (ABOFAP)

Farmer Based Organizations and Cooperatives
In many developing countries, the agricultural sector is made up of a large number of smallholder farmers who are disadvantaged in accessing inputs, extension services and markets for their produce. The agricultural sector in Ghana is no exception. Ghana farmers have the tradition of organizing themselves at local level into membership-based entities (associations, unions, cooperatives). They mainly organize around common interest like the production of a given agricultural crop or to pool their resources together and facilitate access to credit and farm inputs. They also form groups based on the kind of enterprise such as marketing, processing, multi-purpose etc. that the group is into. Although group formation has the potential to strengthen farmers bargaining power in the market place, most FBOs in Ghana are weak in terms of financing and organization and need help. To assist FBOs, the Government of Ghana included a component into the Agricultural Services Sub-Sector Investment Project (AgSSIP) that focuses on the development of FBOs into a grassroots independent movement that is led and run by the farmers themselves. Five major types of farmers’ organization in Ghana include:

  • Traditional associations/groups
  • Multipurpose associations/groups
  • Informal contact groups
  • Co-operatives
  • National farmers’ organizations

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Ghana. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.

Enabling Environment

Enabling (or Disabling) Environment

The reform of MOFA  leading to the reorganization and creation of the Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES), and the decentralization of agricultural extension activities to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD pose serious challenges to the effective implementation and coordination of agricultural extension programs in Ghana. The co-ordination of the actors involved in decentralization is weak and so the linkages among the components of decentralization at the national and local levels are virtually non-existent (Asuming-Brempong, 2005). Extension programs are leading or adapting to decentralization reforms in many countries including Ghana. Local and regional governments are playing an increasing role relative to national governments in performing the public functions for a pluralistic system. However, major issues arising from the discussion of pluralistic extension systems are coordinating the system, ensuring adequate coverage of rural populations, assuring quality, and building capacity of service providers. An evaluation of the impact of decentralization of extension services indicate that in Ghana, coordination of actors and linkages could be improved if the decentralization process is fully completed, that is, administrative, political and fiscal decentralization. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen the collaboration among the various directorates within MoFA and between MoFA and the Regional co-coordinating Council, the District Assemblies, research Institutions and the Universities.

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Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension

Good communication systems between various actors of agricultural development are vital tools for the transfer of new and improve agricultural technology to farmers. Several ICT tools (e-mail, internet, phone, radio, TV, print) commonly used in other African countries and different parts of the world are found in Ghana today. Mobile services have been introduced in Ghana and spread very rapidly to all parts of the country including rural areas. The 2009 World Bank statistics report indicated that 63.4 percent of the population of Ghana own and operate a mobile phone.With mobile phone branching out beyond its origins as primarily voice-only device to be used for other services such as banking (paying bills, sending money, paying school fees), the technology could play a key role in extension services and information delivery.  Internet usage is spreading out and agricultural extension system is using the technology to reach farmers. Ghana ranks among the top countries in Sub-Sahara Africa in the use of computers and internet services. About 6 percent of the population had access to internet in 2009. To take advantage of these ICTs, DAES is establishing e-extension within MOFA to enhance qualitative extension service delivery to farmers and other stakeholders. Innovative ICT based approaches that utilize internet connection have the advantage of providing advice to farmers on-line and mobile phones help farmers’ access information instantly via SMS.


Training for Extension Professionals

Training agricultural professional increases the skills of extension staff in the field, and the lack of continuing education opportunities could constitute a drawback to agricultural extension agents’ performance. Formal agricultural training is provided by Ghana Universities and Institutes of Higher Education, and current personnel taking on extension services are trained to work as general agricultural practitioners also known as agronomists. The training departments of ministries of agriculture and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) generally run ad hoc in-service training programs that do not prepare extension staff adequately to deal with complex agricultural problems. In the case of Ghana like many other countries, the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE) partners with MOFA and participating universities like University of Cape Coast and Kwadaso Agricultural College to provide mid-career training to extension staff who currently work with MOFA and NGOs engaged in agricultural and rural development. There is a strong extension focus in this initiative where approximately one-half of the total credit points required to graduate in the B.Sc. agricultural extension curriculum in the School of Agriculture at the University of Cape Coast are acquired from extension and extension-related courses. Other institutions like the Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) provide training through  the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) which develop a curriculum for the training of extension agents, both public and private, to ensure that the same message is carried to all cocoa farmers.



Asuming-Brempong, S., D. B. Sarpong, and F. Asante. 2005. Institutional Bottlenecks of Agricultural Sector Development: The Case of Research and Extension Provision in Ghana. Final Report. Funding for the research has been provided by the OECD Development Centre, Paris, France.

Okorley, E. L. 2007. An Operational framework for Improving Decentralized Agricultural Extension: A Ghanaian Case Study.  A Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy PhD) in Agricultural Extension. Institute of Natural Resources. Agricultural/Horticultural Systems & Management, Massey University.


Statistical Indicators                                                                                               

Ghana                                                                                                                         Year
Agricultural land (sq km) 156,000 2008
Agricultural land (% of land area) 68.6 2008
Arable land (hectares) 4,400,000 2008
Arable land (% of land area) 19.34 2008
Arable land (hectares per person) 0.19 2008
Fertilizer consumption (per ha of arable land) 6 2008
Agriculture, value added (% of GDP) 31.7 2009
Food production index (1999-2001 = 100) 155 2009
Food exports (% of merchandise exports) 63.5 2009
Food imports (% of merchandise imports) 14.8 2009
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$) 1,190 2009
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)* 66.6 2009
Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24) 78.9 2009
Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24) 97 2009
Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%) 89 2009
Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) 33.2 2007
49.6 2008
63.4 2009
Internet users (per 100 people) 3.8 2007
4.3 2008
5.4 2009
Population, total 23,837,261 2009
Population density (people per sq. km of land area) 104.8 200
Rural population 11,737,467 2009
Rural population (% of total population) 49.2 2009
Agricultural population*  12,683,000 2008
Agricultural population (% of total population)* 54 2008
Total economically active population in Agriculture* 5,790,000 2008
Total economically active population in Agriculture (in % of total economically active population)* 55 2008
Female economically active population in Agriculture (% of total active in agriculture)* 44 2008

Source: The World Bank *Food and Agriculture Organization FAO