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Why plantains and not maize, rice, other staples? – Agric Expert questions MoFA

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The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has set up food retail centres in the Greater Accra Region to mitigate the hike in food prices.

According to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, most middlemen go to the farm gates for farm produce at cheaper prices, only to turn around and sell them at higher prices in urban centres, hence the need for the MOFA retail centres.

Food prices in the country continue to soar, raising concerns about the government’s failed interventions in the Agricultural sector.

Data from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) reveal that food inflation in May 2022 was 30.1 percent higher, compared with 26.6 percent in the preceding month.

Non-food Inflation was also 25.7 percent in May 2022, as against 21.3 percent the previous month.

Speaking in an interview in Sunyani, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, attributed the increases to factors beyond government’s control, such as high cost of fertiliser and chemicals and the increase in fuel prices.

He said despite the ongoing economic crisis, some people have drastically increased their food prices which he says is unacceptable.

The Ministry’s move has however been described as a failed policy

“For me, the first thought that came to my mind is that this is a complete failure of policy. The Ministry has no business retailing any foodstuffs. It is supposed to create an enabling environment to allow market actors to do that. In fact, one of the key aspects of the Ministry is to create market opportunities for the private sector to be able to do this very well.”

“If you consider what they are even doing, plantain is in its peak season and it is in abundance. I believe in the next month or two, the Ministry would not be able to get that plantain to be able to transport to Accra or any other place for that matter for people to buy,” Ibrahim Akalbila, the Executive Director for the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition (GTLC) said when he spoke on A1 Radio’s Day Break Upper East Show today, Monday, November 14, 2022. 

Mr. Akalbila explained that what makes the situation worse is the fact that the Ministry is targeting non-relevant food items to support their agenda. 

“If they did things well, it won’t be a matter of plantain. You and I eat plantain once in a while; probably once or twice in a week. What we need is the maize, the rice, the tomatoes at cheaper prices through the market systems. Why doesn’t he supply these at the venue for us to buy?”

“PFJ has keey crops it supported. Those are the crops that we need. We decided as a country that those crops [under PFJ] were crops that we needed to support to grow to survive. Currently, we are not even targeting those items to market. We are rather targeting a crop that would fade away in the next two months,” he said. 

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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