In trying to meet the deadline for a two-week lockdown to contain spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Ghanaians from all walks of life have engaged in panic-buying and tried hoarding essential foodstuffs in anticipation of having enough to weather the two-week hiatus.
As a result of this heightened purchasing activity, traders took the opportunity to increase the prices of commodities like gari and other essentials, leaving those with little to spare to be out-purchased. The uncertainty gave room for many traders to reap windfall profits with consumers being at their mercy.
However, according to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the panic-buying is uncalled for and unnecessary because there is enough food stock available for more than a month due to the success recorded in the agriculture flagship programme of Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) that has been implemented for three years now.
He explained that players along the food value chain, from the farmer to suppliers and traders in the market, are part of those in the exempted category of essential service providers – hence there’s no need to panic-buy.
That is quite a relief, but we believe this should have been communicated earlier to spare people the inconvenience of trooping to market centres in droves and rushing to stock up. Just observing the long queues occasioned by households seeking to fill up their LPG cylinders reminded us of the days of economic uncertainty.
The minister reiterated the fact that those rushing and panic-buying at any price offered them are just throwing money away, since there is enough stock to meet domestic demand; and farmers are also preparing their lands for the incoming season which is at hand.
Therefore, in his estimation the situation is not that dire to merit the rush by people to panic-buy and stock up. Additionally, to assure Ghanaians that there is enough food to withstand any unforeseen situation, Dr. Afriyie-Akoto said the National Food Buffer Stock (NAFCO) will be given GH¢100million to restock warehouses around the country and ensure the barns are full to meet any emergency food situation.