Agrihouse Foundation chalked another grand success with the timely and colourful execution of the 2nd edition of the Ghana Chicken Festival (GHACHICK), which came off in Accra at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel, Ridge.
Annually, the event aims to promote the consumption and patronage of local poultry products, and create sustainable awareness on the nutritional value of poultry products among Ghanaians.
GHACHICK brings families and friends together in a recreational atmosphere, affording participants opportunity to savour locally bred chicken meals and other allied poultry products.
This year, the festival opened at 9 am with the sounds of gentle gospel music flooding the areas designated for the event. The white canopies, as well as, bright coloured chairs and tables were strategically arranged to make room for easy movements, and yet close enough to have the families and friends enjoy one another’s company.
Beyond family and friends enjoying one another’s company, the event also aims to create marketing and networking opportunities for poultry producers, sellers and processors in the value chain, thus, the need for a mini-exhibitions stand, which was in eyesight to make it easy for patrons to access.
By 10:30 am, patrons had started arriving in their numbers; parents with the little children, girlfriends and young men arriving in groups, individuals sharply dressed, walking in with swagger, and young happy couples who couldn’t be mistaken for anything else.
Gradually, the seats were being occupied under the canopies; muffled voices were in the air, competing with the base of the loud sound systems. There were several board games on the tables ready to be played, like Draughts, Oware, Scrabble, Ludo and Monopoly. Most of the children took the lead with the games, allowing their guardians time to settle and assess the environment.
It was a perfectly organised space for an event of that nature; spacious and airy with enough sunshine in all the right spots, as well as shade. At part of COVID-19 protocols, there were tissues, nose masks and sanitisers available for use. Members of the Agrihouse team were on standby to listen to concerns and offer support. Things indeed were in place, including dignitaries who had been invited to grace the event. They were in the persons of CEO of Mazia Honey – Florence Tomazia Cossou; Head of Women Banking, Ecobank Ghana – Dr. Loretta Sarpong; CEO of MyBarnes Ghana Limited – Mr. Kenneth Barnes; Head of Marketing, SES HD Plus – Madam Adelaide Abbiw-Wiliams; President, Women In Poultry Value Chain – Dr. Mrs. Victoria Norgbey; Madam Maria Goretti Quarshi, AJ of Mentor X Fame; and the famous Ali of TV3 Date Rush Fame.
At 11 am, an opening prayer was offered by Blessed Danso, a member of the Agrihouse team. It was followed by the welcome of the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, which was read on her behalf by the General Manager, Mr. Michael Opuni-Frimpong.
Remarks by Organisers and Sponsors
In welcoming patrons to the event, the Executive Director used the occasion to appeal for support and favourable policy directions for the country’s poultry industry.
She said currently, about 95% of chicken consumed in Ghana is imported. “This is not a favourable situation for our poultry farmers and the industry as a whole”, she stressed.
She added: “Instituting the Ghana Chicken Festival is our way of contributing to solutions needed in the sector. We believe the poultry industry in Ghana is a key area that can improve economic development. Many jobs will be created and our famers will enjoy the best of the market if the local sector takes at least fifty percent of the current market share”.
She, therefore, reiterated the need for stakeholders to financially and technically support the initiatives of the foundation, which are all geared toward providing training, mentorship, education, incentives and capacity building for our young people, Agric students and beginner agribusinesses, women and persons with disability operating in our agric sector.
In concluding, she expressed her profound gratitude to corporate sponsors and supporters of this year’s event: Agricare, HD Plus, Mobraz Farms and Dainess Chefs School.
Also in a brief remark, the Managing Director of Agricare Limited, Mr. Eric Manteau, has called on value chain stakeholders to support the initiatives and events of Agrihouse Foundation, especially the ‘Ghana Chicken Festival’ (GHACHICK), which he said has great potential of expanding market for poultry farmers.
In a similar statement, the Head of Marketing at HD Plus, Madam Adelaide Abbiw-Williams, also described GHACHICK as a great initiative, not only providing support for stakeholders in the poultry sector, but also strengthening family bonds through recreation.
The Administrator of Dainess Chefs School, Madam Catherine, praised Agrihouse for the initiative, and further used the opportunity to highlight some practical courses and programmes offered by the institution, which she noted were great for young people to explore.
The Coordinator of the Ghana National Egg Campaign Secretariat, Madam Comfort Kyerewa Acheampong, highlighted nutritional benefits of eggs and called on the parents to add more eggs dishes to their meals at home.
Immediately after the opening remarks, the Master of Ceremony, in the person of Mr. McRay, announced the start of the CEO Chef Competition, which is a major aspect of the event. The invited CEO’s, influencers and corporate representatives add their voices to the call for sustainable growth and development in the poultry sector.
With applauds, all the personalities took their places behind their kitchen set-ups. The judges – Madam Comfort Kyerewa Acheampong, Coordinator of the Ghana National Egg Campaign Secretariat; Mr. Abraham Tettey, Chief instructor at Dainess Chefs School; Mr. Benjamin Tetteh, Head of Home Economics at Accra Technical University; and Mr. Nii Amartei, Family Dietician and Food consultant – went over the rules of the competition with the CEO’s and highlighted areas they would be looking out for in the process.
They had three hours to put together their meals. At exactly12:30 pm, they were given the go ahead to start cooking, and with each second the pressure mounted.
While the cooking was ongoing, other aspects of the full day event moved along – like friends and families taking pictures, sampling pieces of heavily spiced grilled and smoked chicken. The children ate cotton candies while their faces were being painted. They enjoyed the bouncy castle and when they were wooed by the music, some of them engaged in dancing competitions and musical chairs. The parents and vendors networked among themselves, but when it was time for the panel discussion – another major aspect of the event – they all took their seats and joined in the conversation. The topic for discussion was: ‘Highlighting the challenges Ghana’s Poultry Industry is facing and 10 Actions the Private sector can take to make a difference within the next 2-5 years’.
Panel Discussion and Recommendations
During the conversation, constraints in the areas of husbandry, feeding and health, availability of inputs, information and credit came up. The panel also noted that small-scale poultry farmers encountered problems in marketing produce, and consistently have to fight effects of the hot climatic conditions.
Further research has also revealed that currently, market for layer birds is stagnating while that for broiler birds has severely regressed. Also, the poultry industry has been plagued by large imports of day old chickens, eggs and feed despite the availability of local birds which are more sumptuous, nutritious and healthy.
Furthermore, domestic industries are failing due to poor infrastructure; inadequate access to affordable credit, poor managerial acumen, inadequate technological advancement necessary to create the required growth, unfair competition from subsidised poultry producers from advanced countries, unfavourable and indifferent government policy direction, escalating costs of production, inefficient methods of production, socio-cultural factors, and lack of information.
Touching on recommendations and solutions, the panel agreed there is need to cut back on importation of poultry products. Presently, Ghana spends US$270million on the importation of poultry products. Stakeholders have noted that Ghana will be better off if part of that money is used to support the local poultry. Furthermore, financial and non-financial institutions must be urged to support via overdraft facilities, flexible payment plans, hire purchase, and leases.
Further Recommendations from Stakeholders
Public-Private Partnership initiatives should be instituted to assist poultry farmers in meeting the future demand for poultry products through co-ordination of the various agencies.
Professional trainers should be hired from domestic or foreign sources to arrange workshop, seminar and live demonstration regarding the latest knowledge of poultry and marketing. This would help government to gather the required statistics to develop a holistic plan for the industry.
A low cost intensive or semi-intensive poultry technology should be adopted for the sake of developing technical capacity and skilled human resources for the industry. Government should mandate the National Agriculture Fund to accelerate agriculture modernisation to enable the industry to flourish and compete.
Appropriate authorities should implement mechanisms to protect local industries and offer assistance to increase local production.
The high cost of poultry products during festive occasions provides opportunities for huge stakeholders’ investments. Besides, a vibrant poultry sector will help improve the protein needs of the people. Interventions to attract more investments should be initiated.
Prioritise the need for farm records as without farm records, inventory and stock controls cannot be obtained. This is because a farmer who maintains an adequate set of records can usually handle problems better than the one who does not, hence, improving data collection.
Mazia Honey Wins Best CEO Chef
As the panel discussion came to an end, the cooking competition was also wrapping up. At approximately 3:30 pm, all chefs were asked to stop cooking. By then, most of them had dressed and served their meals neatly on their tables, ready for the inspection of the judges. The judges took turns tasting the dishes presented, from banku and chicken okro stew to fried rice and chicken, chicken light soup, among others.
After sampling the meals, they went back into their quarters where they spent some time collating their final figures. Finally, they came back to relieve the contestants of their anxiety. In a short presentation, they declared the first three winners, with CEO of Mazia Honey, Ms. Florence Tomazia Cossou, leading the pack. The first runner up was Dr. Loretta Sarpong, Head of Women Banking at Ecobank Ghana; and CEO of MyBarnes Ghana Limited, Mr. Kenneth Barnes took the third positon. One after the other they received their prizes, which included a knapsack spraying machine, Wellington boots and well-dressed full chicken. Interacting with the media, they expressed their joy for being part of the event, thanked Agrihouse Foundation for the organising an event that did not only promote the poultry sector, but also brought families together. They called on financial and corporate stakeholders to support the initiative and other events and projects organised by Agrihouse Foundation.
The festival continued for another hour, with thrilling musical performances from AJ of Mentor X Fame, and choreographies from Itwins Ghana.