Inefficient and poor distribution networks for food commodities in the country are a prime cause of the periodic artificial shortage of maize, the Word Food Programme (WFP) has said.
In recent times there have been reports of shortages in the supply of maize, and poultry farmers claimed to be the worst-affected as they struggled to access the main feed input on the markets at a reasonable price. At a point in time, some poultry farmers in the Dormaa area of Brong Ahafo Region had to import the commodity from Cote d’Ivoire.
But according to the Programme Policy Officer of WFP, Samuel Adjei, the situation has been manifesting not necessarily because there is not enough maize available in the system, but largely as a result of difficulties in transporting the commodity from production areas to vantage market centres.
“It will interest you to know that sometimes the commodity might be in abundance in places like Techiman, Ejura and Nkoranza, but if you move to Accra and Volta Region, it is scarcely available to consumers. This can’t be shortage of maize but rather the manifestation of a poor food distribution network in the country,” Mr. Adjei told the B&FT.
He underscored the need for an efficient post-harvest management system, such as proper warehousing, to ensure even-distribution of food commodities. Government must therefore step-up by creating an enabling environment for private sector participation in warehouse management, especially making mobile drying and grading facilities available, he added.
The WFP Programme Policy Officer made this observation on the sidelines of a consultative workshop for planning a food safety, quality and standard weights & measure awareness-creation campaign held at Techiman.
The campaign is in line with implementation of standards in the production and sale of maize in major production centres of the country. This is a follow-up to a WFP’s piloted ‘Purchase for Progress (P4P)’ initiative. The five-year project saw the purchase of 5,000 metric tonnes of maize worth US$2million from smallholder farmers.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Adjei said there will be intensive public education about standardisation of the maize business at the designated areas in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions. The ultimate aim of the campaign is to ensure farmers and buyers in the selected nine production zones derive optimum benefits from the trade, as well as position local production to compete on the foreign markets, he stated.
The project is expected to be rolled-out in Techiman North & South, Nkoranza North & South, Atebubu-Amantin, Kintampo South, Wenchi, Tain (all in Brong Ahafo), and Ejura-Sekyeredumasi in the Ashanti Region.
Under the initiative, smallholder farmers will receive training on good agricultural and post-harvest handing practices aimed at increasing yields and surpluses, reducing post-harvest losses as well as improving their aggregation capacity to compete for premium markets. The initiative will also promote the use of calibrated weighing scales to discourage the sale of maize through the ‘bush weight’ method.
The workshop brought together market actors, policymakers and all other relevant stakeholders to make inputs for the development of a road map for the campaign.