Experts predict food import inflationary impact as Burkina Faso et al exit ECOWAS

July PM data for Ghana pointed to a sixth successive monthly deterioration in business conditions as new orders and output fell once again.
File photo: JAFEPX Makola Market and street scene, downtown Accra, Ghana

Experts are predicting a possible import inflationary effect on food commodities from Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali as a result of those countries’ withdrawal from the ECOWAS bloc.

Global Credit Rating (GCR) – a subsidiary of Moody’s – has indicated that leaving ECOWAS will have a general inflationary impact in the domestic markets of all the three countries, which will inevitably be transferred to the price of food commodities imported into neighbouring countries including Ghana.

It says the movement of people across various borders and trading in these countries will likely be limited – a situation that could possibly promote commodity hoarding with price hikes.

The GCR also noted that the three countries’ withdrawal will further weaken economic development in the three Sahel nations, who already rank among the world’s poorest.

Ghana currently imports 90 percent of its fresh tomato from Burkina Faso, with a national consumption demand in excess of 800,000 metric tonnes per annum, according to data from the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL).

Trade data from the Ghana Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association show that the country imports some US$400million worth of tomato from Burkina Faso each year.

Burkina Faso and Mali also account for almost 70 percent of Ghana’s livestock import.

Similarly, Niger remains a key exporter of dry onions in the region; responsible for almost two-thirds of total exports according to market intelligence platform, Indexbox.

In 2021, the main destinations of onion exports from Niger were Ghana (US$21.7million), Ivory Coast (US$1.15million), Benin (US$451,000), Togo (US$84,500) and Nigeria (US$35,100).

Last year, onion import from Niger, according to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, was valued at US$26million – with that amount expected to reach US$30million by end of this year.

Indeed, market watchers have also predicted that the cost of a box of imported tomato – which fell by 43 percent from GH¢3,000 in the first and second quarter last year to GH¢1,700 by December, and currently sells between GH¢1,000 and GH¢1,200 – may double again in the coming weeks.

This development is also expected to affect prices of imported legumes, cereals and grains from Niger and Mali due to their exit from the bloc.

Mali, according to the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), has equally in recent years increased exports of beans, millet and corn to Ghana.

To initiate solutions to these unforeseen events and reduce food imports from neighbouring countries, key agriculture sector stakeholders have been advocating support for research institutions to undertake seed development in greenhouse environments to enable year-round nursery.

There are also calls for mechanised irrigation, inputs and access to capital to combat changing trends in the current erratic climate circumstances.

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