Bags of maize being packaged at the Techiman Maize Market to be transported
Bags of maize being packaged at the Techiman Maize Market to be transported

Techiman Market: Trading post for West Africa

He Techiman Market is one of the ancient, famous and biggest markets in the West Africa sub-region.

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The popular market was established by the late Paramount Chief of the Techiman Traditional Area, Oseadeeyo Akumfi Ameyaw I, in 1944.

He was said to be a trader who transacted his business in the northern part of the country and Ghana’s neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Togo and Nigeria, among others.

As a traditional ruler who was interested in trading activities, he decided to start operating in Techiman by establishing a mini market at the forecourt of the palace.

Before then there was no market in the area for residents to patronise, which made it very difficult for them to obtain their basic needs.

During that period, people only purchased products, including food items from traders, predominantly women, who carried them from house to house every morning and evening.

In a bid to solve the challenge and frustrations, Oseadeeyo Ameyaw I established a small market beside his palace and invited the public to bring items to sell or purchase.

At the initial stage, people were not patronising the market because the market and the system were new to some residents who still expected traders to visit their homes with their products.

The development made several traders incur huge losses anytime they got to the market to transact business.

Unsold goods

As a visionary leader who was passionate about the progress and sustainability of the market, Oseadeeyo Ameyaw decided to purchase all unsold goods, especially food items brought to the market by the traders, which he distributed freely to residents, particularly the vulnerable in the area.

With such assurance that whatever was brought to the market would not go waste or be sent home, hundreds of people started patronising the market centre.

Also, Oseadeeyo Ameyaw improved trading at the market by sending envoys to Techiman and its surrounding communities to invite residents to the newly established market.

In a few years, the market started attracting traders from across the country and from neighbouring countries, culminating in massive patronage.

In the 1970s the market became an important three-day wholesale market supplying the whole country with food items such as yam, plantain, cassava, cocoyam and grains.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic on how the market came into being, the Registrar of the Techiman Traditional Area, Evans Eagan, explained that the chief adopted the strategy of buying all unsold items from traders to motivate them to patronise the market.

He said the agenda was to make the market one of the preferred trading destinations and that the move enticed traders from all walks of life to trade at the market, “because they strongly believed the chief will buy all their goods, if they are unable to sell them”.

Mr Eagan said the market was later handed over to the Techiman Municipal Assembly for management.

He said although the council had handed over the market to the assembly, it remained a key stakeholder in its management and development.

Mr Eagan affirmed that the council would continue to partner the assembly and other development partners to develop the market to continue to maintain its status in the sub-region.

Popularity

The market is located at the heart of the Techiman township in the Techiman Municipality in the Bono East Region.

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One interesting thing about Techiman is that since the town is located along the Kumasi-Tamale Highway, people travelling from the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central, Western and nearby Bono and Ahafo regions to the northern part of the country, have to pass through the town.

All neighbouring countries beyond the northern borders of the country that transact business in the country also transit through Techiman, which boosts the patronage of the market.

Before Techiman became the Bono East Regional capital in 2019, Techiman was already popular in the country because of the existence of the market, although the selection of the town as the capital of the newly created region has also added to the status of the market.

It was referred to as one of the food baskets of the country since the existence of the market kept attracting traders, especially food items sellers across West Africa.

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The existence of the market has also sped up the development of Techiman, as people, particularly businessmen, prefer settling in Techiman to enjoy the business environment.

The town has popular hotels such as Villa Kam Boutique Hotel, Encom Hotel, Micas Executive Lodge, Hotel De Geogio, AJ Plaza Hotel, Premier Palace Hotel, among others, which serve as accommodation for traders.

International market

The Techiman market is described as an international one because it is highly patronised by traders from other countries such as Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Mali and Cote d'Ivoire.

In addition, the market attracts traders from all parts of the country, making the Techiman township densely populated with different kinds of people who travel from all walks of life to trade in the market.

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Originally, the Techiman market operated from Wednesday, through to Friday each week, but now it is also highly patronised on the other days.

Trading is at its peak on Fridays, which has made traders and residents refer to the day as the last market.

Women's role

Women are the main operators of the market although men also play some roles.

It was from the late 1960s that various associations defined by the type of goods sold in the market were formed.

Examples of such associations are yam sellers, maize sellers, fish sellers, cassava sellers, palm oil sellers and cloth sellers, among others.

The various associations have their leaders who are referred to as queens.

As one of the largest markets in the sub-region, there is virtually everything in the market, ranging from food items, livestock, used cloths and footwear, mobile phones and mattresses.

Others include building materials, cosmetics, palm oil, cooking utensils, tricycles and motorbikes among other goods.

Flourishing

The Secretary of the Techiman Maize Market, Obiri Yeboah, told the Daily Graphic that trading at the market was flourishing, as it served the whole of the West Africa sub-region, calling on traders to sell in the market in view of the gains they could make.

He said there were 16 maize markets in the Ashanti, Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions, explaining that among the markets, the Techiman market was the biggest and largest.

Mr Yeboah said in a week, maize traders at the Techiman market could sell more than 20,000 bags of the commodity and that traders in the market had never experienced maize shortage.

He said more than 50 trucks were loaded with maize every week from the market, which was transported to other parts of the country, adding that there were other cereals or grains such as beans, rice and millet in the market.

Mr Yeboah said a bag of 130kg of maize now sells between GH¢500 and GH¢600, explaining that “The price of the commodity has been increased because of the hike in fuel prices.”

He said maize was abundant in the market, but the price, which had increased from GH¢450 to GH¢500 and GH¢600, sometimes made the commodity scarce in some major cities of the country.  

Mr Yeboah said the increase in prices of the maize and other cereals had negatively affected business, adding, “Most of the traders from the neighbouring countries have stopped patronising the market.”

Challenges

Mr Yeboah said one of the major challenges facing traders in the market was the inability of the Techiman Municipal Assembly to pave some parts of the maize market.

He said the market became dusty during dry season and when it rained, the unpaved portions became muddy, making trading and movement very difficult for traders and customers.

Mr Yeboah said due to the unpleasant situation, traders sometimes abandoned the market, explaining that the amount of money the market generated for the assembly in a month alone could be used to pave those portions of the market.

He, therefore, appealed to the assembly to consider paving those areas to prevent mud and dust to improve trading activities and movement.

Lucrative

A 43-year-old vegetable trader, Jennifer Owusu-Mensah, told the Daily Graphic that trading at the market was lucrative because it was highly patronised by traders across West Africa.    

She said the market was opened to all kinds of goods from foodstuffs to electronics, building materials, upholstery, animal products, second hand clothing and cloths.

Mrs Owusu-Mensah said she had traded in several markets across the country, but the Techiman market was a nice place to trade, adding that “You can get almost every item you need here.”

Another trader, Kusi Appiah, however, said though the market was one of the best in West Africa, it had an unconducive environment, explaining that during rainy and dry seasons, traders had to go through difficult periods.

He also raised concern about the improper management of waste at the market while some women had to sell foodstuffs on the bare floor, in addition to non-functioning streetlights.

Mr Appiah, therefore, appealed to the assembly and other stakeholders to address those concerns to facilitate trading.

He again called on the Bono East Regional Police Command to beef up security during both the day and night to protect traders and their goods.

Assembly’s Response

The Techiman Municipal Environmental Health and Sanitation Analyst, Ernest Agbokli, told the Daily Graphic that the assembly had made investments to always keep the environment of the market clean.

He said however that waste management at the market was a challenge to the assembly because of the huge volume of waste generated each day at the market, particularly from the foodstuff market.

Mr Agbokli mentioned frequent breakdowns of waste collection vehicles and the lack of cooperation from the market women as some of the challenges facing the assembly.

He said the assembly was committed to managing waste at the market and appealed to other stakeholders to partner the assembly to collect waste.

Writer’s email: [email protected]

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