Economic history teaches us that agriculture and rural transformation are vital for overall economic structural change. Therefore, in a developing country context such as Ghana, economic development, job creation, and poverty reduction may be elusive in the absence of high-quality research that generates evidence on pathways to agricultural and economic transformation. To date, Ghana’s agriculture sector remains the largest employer of the economically active population, employing 32% of the labour force. At the same time, however, agriculture’s value-added share of total economic output is just around 19%, showing low agricultural productivity relative to other sectors of the economy. Ghana’s agricultural sector thus needs to grow more rapidly while responding to the stakes of food security, poverty reduction, and environmental protection.
The health and security crises that recently affected global commodity markets showed that Ghana’s agriculture must expand to supply cities and rural areas with the common food products consumed domestically. Furthermore, export chains, which are major sources of currency for Ghana (especially cocoa), face sustainability issues. ISSER’s research will continue to focus on identifying which strategies of agricultural growth are most suitable for increasing yields, securing harvests, and ensuring economic profitability while protecting the environment. Because most of the poor’s livelihoods depend on agricultural activities, the production and marketing of agricultural products remains a major stake for socio-economic development in Ghana. This particularly includes providing income to family farmers and generating sufficient jobs and good working conditions, especially for women and youth. ISSER’s research will therefore focus on providing evidence on how these triple objectives can be achieved, with particular attention to innovative pathways through which agriculture can support economic transformation characterised by agro-industrialization and job creation, including for the urban poor. ISSER will continue providing policymakers with quality research evidence on the different transition pathways towards more sustainable agriculture. This particularly includes the roles played by diverse private actors, ranging from SMEs to multinational companies, and the ability of value chain organisations to remunerate sustainable agriculture.