“Ghana’s Biomass Imperative: Surmounting the Biochemical Barriers”

“Ghana’s Biomass Imperative: Surmounting the Biochemical Barriers”

Professor Naa Ayikailey Adamafio

B.Sc. (Hons) Biochemistry (University of Ghana), Ph.D Biochemistry (Monash University)



Each year, Ghana’s agricultural and agro-processing sectors generate vast quantities of crop residues (biomass) such as maize cobs, cassava peels and cocoa pod husks most of which are discarded and left to decompose.

Across the globe, there is considerable interest in the conversion of biomass into biofuels or animal feed. This is because each type of biomass contains substantial amounts of energy in the form of carbohydrates. Ghana is in dire need of affordable animal feed.  The prohibitive cost of animal feed in the country has been identified as the greatest challenge confronting the livestock sector, which produces only 30% of the country’s meat requirements. Competition between humans and animals for food crops, such as maize, accounts for the high cost of animal feed. It is envisaged that substitution of food crops with biomass, which is not consumed by humans, would reduce the cost of animal feed. However, biomass often contains one or more harmful substances, termed anti-nutrients, which adversely affect the health, digestion, growth or reproduction of animals. 

The challenge is to develop affordable treatment methods which will be effective in eliminating anti-nutrients from each major crop residue, while retaining beneficial nutrients. In this lecture, I describe and explain experimental strategies involved in identifying organisms with anti-nutrient degrading capabilities and evaluating their levels of efficiency. I also discuss the significance of the research in relation to the establishment of a vibrant biomass sector in Ghana. 

I contend that maximum utilization of the country’s biomass is a developmental imperative. It is critical to the profitability of integrated agricultural systems and has enormous implications for environmental management, rural job creation and poverty alleviation.