1D1W: Govt warehouses decay while farmers store produce in living rooms



More than a dozen bags of maize, rice, and millet compete for space with plates, plastic and aluminium pans, and an uncovered barrel containing water in the storeroom of Yaw Yeliwaan’s four-bedroom house at Hain, in the Upper West Region. The storeroom is where he stores most of his farm produce.

When The Fourth Estate visited Mr Yeliwaan’s house last November, there was so much heat in his room. Outside, there was groundnut being dried all over the floor.

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Groundnut being dried in Mr Yaw Yeliwaan’s house

Some 480km away from Hain, a commercial farmer at Salaga in the Savannah Region, who gave his name as Nash, told The Fourth Estate that farmers in the area were “converting their living rooms into storehouses.”

He reiterated that he, alone, was expecting to produce about 200 bags of rice. However, their “storehouses cannot accommodate them all, so we have to keep them in our living rooms.”

Back at Hain, Mr Yeliwaan’s house is just 500 meters away from an abandoned warehouse built by the government as part of the One District, One Warehouse policy. Mr Yeliwaan, who is in his fifties, grows crops to support his family and saves seeds for the next planting season. Without a proper storage facility, he and other farmers in the Upper West Region face challenges in storing their produce, despite the region’s status as the top producer of sorghum and cowpeas since 2019.

Mr Yeliwaan said he would have “loved” to store his produce in the warehouse if it was opened to farmers. “For now,” he said, “I will continue to sleep with my farm produce until the warehouse is operational.”

Model design for the 1 district 1 warehouse project

The One District, One Warehouse (1D1W) project is meant to be an essential component of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme. It aims to provide storage hubs for agricultural produce, help increase national grain storage capacity, improve the quality of stored grains, and reduce post-harvest losses.

The government expected a bumper harvest due to the PFJ. It, therefore, began the construction of about 80 warehouses across the country in 2017. The Ministry of Special Development Initiatives, then led by Hawa Koomson and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), under then minister Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, were responsible for overseeing the projects.

However, after over six years, The Fourth Estate has found that the warehouse project is barely living up to its promise.

Completed but not handed over to local assemblies

In six locations The Fourth Estate visited, warehouses were not in use because the central government had not handed them over to the local assemblies. An official at the District Assembly at New Edubiase in the Ashanti Region, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they do not know why the warehouse had been locked and neglected.

“We the agric people do not do politics,” he said.

“We work for the farmers. If the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) calls us today, we will put the structure to good use.”

The same concern was raised by the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Dormaa Central, Drissah Quatarah. He told The Fourth Estate that he could not open the warehouse at Atesikrom because the government awarded the contract through MoFA. And since MoFA had not permitted him to operate it, he cannot do so.

However, the Municipal MoFA Director at the New Edubiase Municipal Assembly, Cecilia Adomah, contradicted the MCE. She said MoFA had told the Assembly how they should use the facility.

“A directive from above,” according to officials at the Agricultural Department of the Ketu South Municipal Assembly in the Volta Region, had stalled the opening of the warehouse at Dzodze. Officials there refused to speak on record. But they said only MoFA could explain why that decision was made.

At Nkwanta, the capital of the Nkwanta South Municipality in the Oti Region, a staff of the Assembly, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the warehouse in the town was “completed in 2019 but the contractor did not hand over the key so we too, sometimes it’s difficult for us to enter.”

WhatsApp Image 2023 11 16 at 9.24.36 AM 1

WhatsApp Image 2023 11 16 at 9.24.36 AM

The Fourth Estate’s sources at Cherepong Saan in the Nadowli Kaleo District told the team that the handing over of the warehouse there had delayed because the contractor had not been fully paid. However, the contractor, Alhaji Issahaku Alhassan, refuted the claims. Although he confirmed to The Fourth Estate that he had not been fully paid, he said that was not the reason the completed facility was not being used.

The DCE for Nadowli Kaleo, Katharine T. Lankono, sang the same song. She said since the project had not been handed over to the assembly, she could not open it for farmers.

The District Director of Agriculture, Samuel Oteng Poku, reiterated that “the Agriculture Department doesn’t manage warehouses, but concerning the Cherepong Saan warehouse, it’s completed but awaits the official handover.”

At Bussie in the Daffiama-Bussie-Issa District in the Upper West Region, the handover of the warehouse for use by farmers had delayed because of disagreements between the contractor and the consultant on the building style, according to the District Chief Executive, engineer Imoro Sanda. However, he said the Assembly is working to get the facility opened for farmers.

Warehouses besieged by weeds and rotting away

The Fourth Estate team found that because some of the warehouses had been abandoned for prolonged periods, most of them had been taken over by weeds.

Weeds greeted The Fourth Estate team from the outside pavements into the compound of the warehouse at Dzodze. Maize plants had grown around the building.

At New Edubiase, not only the path that led up to the facility was overtaken by weeds. But the fence, gate and several parts of the warehouse had succumbed to the force of unwanted plants. The situation at Nkwanta in the Oti Region had created a home for reptiles and birds. The story was the same at Hain, Bussie and Salaga. The copper wire used for fencing at the Cherepong Saan warehouse was not spared by the weeds.

Although the Atesikrom and Sunyani warehouses stood out for their relatively neat compounds, they were rotting away because of neglect. The Fourth Estate observed that the paintings on the walls at the Atesikrom warehouse had peeled off and one of the metallic gates was not functioning.

The completed warehouse in Sunyani that had washroom facilities and administrative offices, was not only left to the caprices of nature, but its gate was also not properly fixed, making it easy for people to trespass. As a result, thieves had stolen all the electrical cables in the facility, thereby rendering it not fit for purpose. Its roof leaks when it rains. And birds had made their nests in the facility.

Though it has been fenced with cement blocks, the warehouse at Agogo, in the Asante Akyem North District, had no gate. The main warehouse and its compound at Agogo also had no electricity.

The warehouse at Salaga is not being used because it is not connected to the electricity grid, according to the assembly member for the Nfaboso electoral area. Mr Abdulai Yakubu Gawan told The Fourth Estate that he asked why the facility was not being used in a meeting at the Assembly on October 31, 2023.

“I was told that it was due to power challenges, and honestly, at Salaga, we are facing low power voltage,” he said.

Open to private individuals, not locals

Although most of the local authorities said they have not been permitted to use the warehouses, the municipal assembly at Dzodze, in the Volta Region, had given access to one farmer. A staff at the assembly’s agriculture department, who did not want to be named, said the assembly handed over the warehouse to a popular farmer in the area to use for free, on condition that the farmer ensured the facility was properly maintained.

According to a staff at the Nkwanta South Municipality, who wished to remain anonymous, the assembly “decided” to hand over the warehouse to one farmer to use for free. But since then, the farmer and the assembly are yet to have an “agreement” on how the arrangement will be implemented.

Farmers at Bole told The Fourth Estate that the warehouse in their district was completed in 2022, used for a while, and later closed down. Since then, it has not been opened to the community. Baaba Adongo, a farmer, said during the cashew season in 2022, “a private person came to rent the place and kept his cashew there.” Since the person left, he said, the facility has been shut.

Another farmer, who gave his name as Ali, said if there had been proper feasibility studies, the warehouse would not have been built at Bole in the first place.

“What baffles me is that we already have one warehouse in this area which could be used for the intended purpose,” he said. “Now you have abandoned that one and have constructed a new one and it’s not in use. Meanwhile, [the old warehouse] is even bigger than the new one. It’s just a waste of money.”

Some farmers at Agogo, who spoke to The Fourth Estate, did not even know a warehouse existed in their community.

“I have not heard of any warehouse. Maybe it is on its way. [Apart from] the maize warehouse we were born to meet, there is no other warehouse in the whole of Agogo,” said Yussifu Azumah, a farmer.

The maize warehouse Mr Azumah referred to is a silo that was built in 1991 by the PNDC government. The Fourth Estate team learnt that the silo is still being used to store thousands of metric tonnes of maize.

Meanwhile, although the warehouse at Dzodze was in good condition, many farmers in the area, the team learnt, lacked knowledge about the project.

Peace Agblemor, a farmer at Dzodze, said many farmers in the community do not know the purpose of the facility.

“We heard it’s for us but since completion, no one has ever said a word to us,” she said. “We heard that they’ll use it to store food meant to be sent to the diaspora.”

Post-harvest losses

The challenges faced by Ghanaian farmers in terms of storage are highlighted in numerous studies that highlight significant post-harvest losses.

The Africa Post-harvest Losses Information System (APHLIS), a private sector initiative that collects data on post-harvest losses in West Africa, discovered that in 2014, the total losses in rice, maize, millet, and sorghum from harvest to retail/wholesale points at market centers were estimated at 337,932 tonnes. This quantity is enough to feed almost one million Ghanaians.

In 2018, APHLIS data showed that Ghana’s losses from the four cereals were valued at around US$141.12 million – more than GHS680.19 million, using
that year’s average exchange rate of US$1 to GHS4.82.

Although the government thought the solution to these financial losses was in building warehouses, Yaw Yeliwaana and his fellow farmers across the country are still storing their harvests at home. They are left to watch cereals and legumes succumb to fungi, weevils and other vermin.

Malfeasance in One District, One Warehouse policy

President Akufo Addo laying the foundation stone for the project
President Nana Akufo-Addo laying the foundation stone for One District One Warehouse

In 2021, the Auditor-General tracked the progress of 10 warehouses that were under construction at the time. Among others, it followed up on work done on warehouses at Dzodze, New Edubiase, Bole, Hain, Cherepong Saan and Bussie.

The Auditor-General’s monitoring report found that MoFA did not conduct feasibility studies before putting up the warehouses as required by the Food and Agricultural Organisation and industry standards. Instead, the ministry adopted a one-size-fits-all design for all the facilities. This resulted in changes to the substructure of five out of the 10 projects with financial implications. The ministry claimed that it skipped the feasibility studies because it wanted to prevent post-harvest losses.

MoFA, according to the report, did not have the capacity to conduct the necessary studies internally. The ministry also failed to follow proper procurement procedures in hiring consultants, the report indicated.

The report also found that MoFA spent GHS1,244,527.30 on activities that were not carried out. Although six contractors in the Bono Ahafo Zone were each paid GHS200,000.00 to purchase six 4×4 pickups, the report revealed that the contractors failed to provide the vehicles.

MoFA told the audit team that the contractors had partially fulfilled their contractual obligation by using GHS1,200,000 to purchase two V8s and two pickup vehicles, totalling GHS1,670,373.20. The ministry said the remaining amount of GH¢470,373.20 would be deducted from subsequent payments to the contractors.

In the end, the Auditor-General concluded that the “Ministry of Food and Agriculture failed to implement systems for monitoring work progress, contractor performance, and identifying challenges in order to take corrective action and ensure timely completion of projects.”

The Fourth Estate reached out to the Ministry of Agriculture for comment on the status of the warehouses in this report but the ministry has not responded to our queries.


The authors of this report, Ibrahim Khalilulahi Usman, Emmanuel K. Gyan, Jessie Ola-Morris, Rafiq Nungor Adam, Sandra Agyeiwaa Otoo, Benjamin Tenkorang, Mavis Emefa Goka, Leroy Hockson, Naomi Kwofie, and Albert Kuzor, are 2023 Fellows of the Next Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship at the Media Foundation for West Africa.


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