Though government’s flagship agricultural programme ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) has been a success as it has led to bumper harvests, hikes in fuel prices are affecting the affordability of food items on the market, Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Bagbara Tanko, has said.
According to him, the high food inflation recorded in the latter parts of last year can only be attributed to increased cost of transportation on the back of high fuel prices and is not necessarily a failure of the PFJ.
“The fact is that we all know what happened in the latter part of last year. We saw how fuel prices went high and it affected trading and the business community generally, so we demonstrated the abundance of yield by going to the farm and carrying food to the ministry to prove to Ghanaians that, indeed, there is food – especially at the farm gates – and that the programme is a success. In rural communities there is food, but what makes it expensive in the urban centres is cost of transportation,” he explained.
Mr. Tanko told the B&FT that some traders are also taking advantage of the situation to make abnormal profits by selling food items at exorbitant prices.
“We have also established that some traders are profiteering because, for instance, one can buy about 600 tubers of yam from the Oti Region at a cost of GH₵600 – and the farmers even add an extra 10 extra pieces for free. But these tubers of yam are then transported to Accra and sold at GH₵25 in December. Granted that they paid tolls on the way, but that alone cannot account for such an increase.
“When we brought yam from the same region to the ministry, it was sold between GH₵10 and GH₵15. Even at GH₵5 one could get a tuber of yam, so if we talk of food inflation it doesn’t mean there is no food but other factors are making the prices expensive,” he said.
Mr. Tanko therefore cautioned against artificial hikes in price of foodstuffs, while encouraging farmers to continue offering support to the ministry and government at large by increasing food production.
Meanwhile, according to former Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Afriyie Akoto, the Planting for Food and Job initiative has so far created over two million jobs.
The programme was officially launched at Goaso in the Ahafo Region on April 19, 2017 by President Nana Akufo-Addo.