I saw a post on one WhatsApp platform where a member was asking for the approximate weight of a bag of maize. Various answers were given to his que
I saw a post on one WhatsApp platform where a member was asking for the approximate weight of a bag of maize.
Various answers were given to his question by other members, some of which were questions themselves. Some of the answers were:
- Which bag size?
- Is it number 4 or 5?
- It is 110kg.
- Between 120 and 140kg, etc.
[ads1]Reading the answers, I realized that, there were no standard weight for a bag of maize in Ghana, so I asked 2 questions:
- What’s the weight of a bag of rice?
- What’s the weight of a bag of sugar?
From the checks, a bag of sugar or rice weighs 50kg all over the world. Why then do we have different sizes of maize, cowpea, groundnut etc in Ghana?
Inputs for agriculture, such as fertiliser and agrochemicals come in definite sizes and volumes including 50kg (for fertilisers), 1 litre (for liquid chemicals), 1kg (for maize seeds), etc.
Meat sellers (butchers) have been using the weighing scale to sell meat. A pound of meat in Wa is the same as a pound of meat in Accra or Elmina.
A crate of tilapia weighs 25kg at the farm or wholesale point, while cocoa has been sold by weight from time immemorial.
Why are other agricultural produce not sold by weight?
In 2010, the World Food Programme introduced the Purchase for Progress (P4P) Initiative. This was a project to introduce the use of weighing scales to farmers and traders across the country. At the end of the project, the Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI) and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) were tasked to encourage and sustain the adoption and usage of the scale by farmers and traders.
With almost 9 years after the initiative, the impact is yet to be seen.
Farmers still use the “bushweight” system where heaped bags of produce weighing between 130 and 150kg are sold as 1 bag (equivalent to 100kg), depriving farmers of the value of the extra kilos.
Currently, some of the containers/measuring devices used for measurements are “Olonka”, “Kotokori bowl”, “Margarine can”, “maize bucket”, etc that differ from locality to locality.
In July 2017, farmers and traders in Techiman and Ejura, two popular grain markets in Ghana have called for the adoption of standards in the measurement of grains. I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel; the standard has been set and the device is widely available and easy to use.
I also don’t think it is the duty of a third party (WFP, GoG, MoFA, GSA, etc), to supply weighing scales to farmers; farmers should buy the scales as one of their production resources to bring standardization into their production and marketing activities.
I will, therefore, use this opportunity to urge all farmers and traders to acquire their own weighing scales for use starting early next year. A good scale that can weigh up to 180kg is not so expensive and can be acquired by every farmer. Investing in the scale will save more money than using those traditional means of measurement in which farmers are greatly cheated.
I will end with the popular quote from former US president Barack Hussein Obama: “if you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century”. Bringing this to my contest, any farmer who thinks the scale is expensive, should continue to cheat himself.
By: Mr. Emmanuel Ankugah, (Agronomist and Agricultural Economist)
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