The Director of the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana, Prof. Peter Quartey, has said that with food being one major driver of inflation, pragmatic measures must be adopted to ensure its security and prevent any imminent crisis.
He suggested that it is crucial for the agriculture sector to take advantage of irrigation to allow for all-year-round farming which would ensure that there is more to meet the country’s demand.
Prof. Quartey added that government must increase investment in domestic food production and employ measures to make available cheaper credit for large-scale commercial farmers who will, in turn, pull along the small-scale farmers to increase production.
“I believe we have not changed the fundamentals of food production in this country. We provide fertilisers and even now, the rate at which fertilisers are supplied to farmers has reduced because the suppliers have not been paid.
We only farm, sometimes, just four and five times a year because we rely on rainfed agriculture. We are blessed with a lot of rivers so we need to invest in irrigation – irrigation is key. Also, we have to invest in the value chain as a whole.
Internally, we know it is food inflation that is the highest, as well as imported inflation. With food inflation, if we can enhance food production, we will be able to reduce the effect of inflation. Once you address food security issues, the country will minimise its reliance on imported food items,” he said in an interview with the B&FT.
Government programmes demand swift inputs
For the Executive Director at Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Dr. Charles Nyaaba, changing the fundamentals of production includes government following its own agricultural policies with investment plans, swift inputs, and committing resources.
He argued that a reason why agricultural policies, such as the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), seem to be struggling is that along the line, government failed to put in money.
“If you come out with a policy and you do not commit resources, how will it work? That is where we find ourselves with the Planting for Food and Jobs…Along the line, though the policy is ongoing, government failed to put in money. We have gotten it wrong with how we are going about it,” he said.
Predicted food crisis in 2023
Recently, some agricultural sector groupings have warned of a looming food crisis in 2023, hence, urging government to increase investment in domestic food production to avert the problem.
According to them, the increasing cost of production would have a detrimental influence on the number of farmers who would plant for the upcoming season, which would then have an impact on market output.
The group told Daily Graphic that the cost of cultivating an acre of maize and legumes had risen from GH¢1,581 in 2020 to GH¢4,681 in 2022.
The groupings include the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), the Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers (GNAPF), and the Chamber of Agribusiness, Ghana (CAG).