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Agric Ministry’s sale of foodstuff a laudable idea but sustainability will be a challenge – Gideon Aboagye

Agribusiness expert, Gideon Aboagye has raised doubts about the sustainability of the Agric Ministry’s decision to sell foodstuffs at “cheap” prices aimed at controlling food prices.

Speaking on Newsfile on Saturday, Mr Aboagye explained that the ministry as a policy maker for the state should get involved in the sale of these products, especially when crop production is determined by good rains and seasons.

“It is a laudable idea…It doesn’t look like something that is sustainable. When you have good rains, you have excess production in terms of crops that really don’t use fertilisers. So you have a situation where you have a lot of plantains, cassava and yam.”

“So you ask yourself in times that rains are not good what happens? I think we should have a broader discussion on this matter and see how best, we could set up an approach which works best for everybody,” the Agribusiness expert said.

This comes after the Ministry of Agriculture on Friday began the direct sale of foodstuffs at its premises.

The move, according to the Ministry, is aimed at cushioning Ghanaians and mitigating the impact of rising food prices.

Reporting from the scene, JoyNews’ Richard Kwadwo Nyarko said only plantain was on sale at the time.

A bunch of plantain, he said was being sold at a minimum of GH₵10 and maximum of GH₵25.

Touching on this, Mr Aboagye said it will be more sustainable if the ministry holds a stakeholder engagement to address the issue instead.

“There are people who do these kinds of businesses if we think that they are pricing their products exorbitantly, I think the market women can be spoken to so that we can all understand the situation in which we are in,” he said.

“Because getting more people to eat local food is also going to help us to reduce the importation of other products. So, ideally, it should be a holistic approach, bringing in all the stakeholders and making sure that everybody understands the issue,” Mr Aboagye added.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Competitive African Rice Platform, Ghana chapter has noted that government should also look into preserving foods that are harvested in one season for its gradual release in another if they want the programme to succeed.

Mr Yaw Adu Poku said that “we are into one season farming, and so you cannot pick the harvest that comes in October/November and sell them in June/July. It is not possible because it will all get spoilt.”

“So we should be looking at the situation to preserve what we have harvested and bringing it out as the months go, but this is the harvesting season so you’d see a lot of food on the market, within six weeks, maximum two months it is all gone and its back to square one.”

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Abdullah Anaman
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