Female Traders and Commodity Queen in the Tomato Value Chain in Ghana: Harmful or Essential?

7th May 2024

Chiara Scheven


The positions of mostly female fresh vegetable traders and their elected representatives, the so-called queens are subject to political and public controversies reflected in the academic debate. They are either rendered as powerful businesswomen running a cartel-like system, which allows them to take advantage of the disadvantaged position of rural small-holder farmers; or understood as the crucial backbone of the Ghanaian food system without whom the supply of agricultural products in urban areas would hardly be possible. This debate is even more prevalent in the tomato sector due to the commodity’s importance for Ghanaian urban consumers. This research project investigates the value female traders and the tomato queen play in the tomato sector in marrying a social network analysis approach with the farm-to-fork framework. Jointly, this allows to understand the formal-informal entanglements that are typical for West African value chains, while doing justice to the social relationships’ embeddedness in moral and cultural context. This, I argue, is beneficial to gain a better understanding of the dynamics within the tomato sector and the role of traders within.