At an early age, 26 year-old businessman Sadick Adjevi opted to limit his egg intake to an average three times a week.
His decision was based on the assumption that taking too much egg could block his veins and lead to stroke because he had been informed egg contains excessive cholesterol.
“Whenever I visit an egg seller, especially the fried ones, and I see people buying three or four, mashing them together, I go like, do you want to kill yourself?” said Sadick.
Ghana’s poultry industry is one of the major pillars of the agriculture sector which contributes over 30 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
The industry is however bedeviled with challenges like poor demand for local products due to influx of imported broilers on the market at cheaper prices.
Farmers say annual egg production falls below demand because local consumption is very low, thus worsening the fortunes of the poultry industry.
“We have a problem with egg consumption in this country, the data we have is about 12 eggs per head per annum, and this is not helping the industry”, observed Victor Oppong-Agyei, Chairman of Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers.
Twelve eggs per person for a whole year is a worrying statistics the Association has raised concerns about for years.
Poultry farmers attribute the trend to some misconception of bad cholesterol associated with eggs.
Dr. Justin Fowler, an Extension Poultry Nutritionist at the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences of the University of Georgia, USA, has explained that the cholesterol issue in egg is not a health problem.
“It has been proven in the last few years in scientific literature that dietary or cholesterol from egg does not increase cholesterol levels in humans,” he said.
According to him, consuming several eggs per week is a very healthy part of a balanced diet but he is surprised at the apathy at egg consumption in Ghana.
“It is shocking that there are few eggs being consumed in Ghana, because eggs are high in protein,” he said. “Eggs are almost the perfect food for particularly young children and pregnant women because it has all the vitamins and minerals for proper growth and development”.
Though Dr. Fowler explains egg is critical for the health, especially, of pregnant women and children, they are ironically victi
ms of the misconception in Ghana.
Like Sadick, some children fear to take in more eggs because the more-eggs-more cholesterol syndrome which has been engrained in them from the tender age.
This misconception has unfortunately registered in the minds of Ghanaian consumers for years.
Besides consumers missing out on the health benefits of egg, farmers are the hardest hit by the situation.
Many have had to abandon the poultry business for other trades because sale of egg is a major source of income for the farmers.
President of the Poultry Farmers Association says many people are not consuming eggs.
“You produce and you don’t get people to buy”, said Mr. Oppong-Agyei.
Despite the many challenges, Dr. Justin Fowler, sees prospects in the poultry industry. He is positive Ghana has all the necessary ingredients to have a vibrant and competitive poultry industry.
“The climate is excellent for raising chicken, self sufficient in maize, demand for chicken, farmers are smart, a university with competent researchers who are experts in the poultry field,” he observed.
The poultry farmers are therefore considering joining efforts with the Ghana Medical Association and Health Ministry to step up education among Ghanaian consumers to clear the misconception.
“We intend meeting with medical association and health ministry to address the situation. We have to discuss with them [medical doctors] because surprisingly some doctors believe the misconception,” said Mr. Oppong-Agyei.
Government in 2014, promised 50 million Ghana Cedis to revamp the industry but little has been done since.
In as much as the association is doing its best, it will require a strong political will in the campaign to erase age-old beliefs in an effort to revive the industry.
Until then, what is becoming mother-to-child transmission of misconception will continue to hold down egg consumption, with all the health and economic implication.