The Alliance for Development and Industrialisation, (ADI) is asking the Ministry of Finance to make all needed resources available for the growth of agriculture.
These resources would strengthen the operations and output of farmers under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme so the country can be assured of abundant food after the COVID-19 crisis.
“We want to reiterate that government needs to release funds for the rural folk to continue with their farming activities which reduce rural-urban drift,” it said.
The ADI, after its preliminary assessment of the scary COVID 19, is predicting that there will be a major food crisis if the Ministry of Agriculture and Finance Ministry fail to take pragmatic measures to address the needs and challenges of farmers under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme.
In a statement issued in Accra and signed by Francis Mensah, Convener of the group, the likely scarcity of food after the COVID-19 may lead to commodity price inflation. Food inflation has been in single digits for the past six months or so, which has resulted in lower inflation for the country. However, during the recent partial lockdown prices of food commodity went up astronomically due to panic-buying, which may not drop now.
The partial lockdown resulted in the rise of food consumption within households and may exert some pressure on the available food in the system.
“Some farmers have hidden their foodstuff because of this pandemic and want to sell them off at higher prices within the crisis period; but beyond the crisis period, where are we going to get the food to buy. If care is not taken, by the end of September this year there will food scarcity in the country,” it said.
That is why the ADI is asking the Finance Ministry to release resources for quick cultivation and harvesting of commodities like rice and maize. “Let’s not use the crisis to lose sight of our immediate need to stabilise our commodity stocks.
“For example, for protein crops like sorghum, millet, soya beans which are grown in the Northern part of country, we should expect these crops also being grown in Bono and Ahafo Regions so it can be abundant,” it said.
“Government should also take steps in making sure that stable crops’ affordability, availability and accessibility is guaranteed, which would help check food inflation. It must consider post-harvest handling, packaging, storage, bagging and processing of these crops,” it said.
“Other countries may suffer because of food-flow, and this is a golden opportunity for us; so we need to take advantage of it. Let’s allow our farmers to start farming and educate them more to keep washing their hands with soap under running water as well as using hand-sanitiser.” It said.
Additionally, government must also allow institutions which deal in agricultural inputs and related materials to operate, so that the farmers will not lack any materials during their preparation and cultivation of farm produce.