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Published by Dr. Adu-Gyamfi Poku

Is Africa ready to develop a competitive bioeconomy? The case of the cassava value web in Ghana

The increasing global demand for diverse biomass-based products such as food, feed and fuel can
transform African agriculture from a food-supplying to a biomass-supplying and processing sector in the
growing international bioeconomy. This study addresses the requisite policy and institutional environment
needed to foster the development of a competitive and sustainable bioeconomy in Africa. The
paper uses the case of cassava in Ghana for an empirical case study. The novel concept of biomass-based
value webs, that is, interlinked agricultural value chains, is combined with Porter’s Diamond model to
analyse the extent to which Ghana is positioned to develop a competitive cassava value web. Empirical
data collection involved mapping the physical biomass flows, applying the ‘Net-Map’ tool to identify all
the actors in the emerging value web and their linkages, as well as in-depth interviews with the identified
actors. The study finds that despite the huge opportunities for cassava biomass in Ghana, there are
coordination problems between farmers, processors and industrial end-users. This has hindered the
potential for increased cassava production, processing and utilisation. There is also generally a lack of
private sector initiatives in the development of new cassava based products. Accordingly, industrial endusers
tend to depend on imported alternatives. Unsuccessful government initiatives and the absence of
legislation such as a composite flour policy or a biofuel blend policy have also been major contributing
factors to the unrealised industrial potential of cassava in Ghana. The findings therefore suggest that
competitive cassava utilisation in the emerging bioeconomy hinges on stronger institutional linkages
between value web actors and government support mainly in the form of local content policies that
encourage the use of cassava based products.

Adu-Gyamfi Poku, Regina Birner, Saurabh Gupta
Journal of Cleaner Production