The government is taking drastic decisions to prevent a likely food crisis that has been characterised by rising prices of foodstuffs, days after it denied a caution by former President John Mahama that the country was on brink of food shortage.
Deputy Agric Minister, Yaw Frimpong Addo, has revealed that National Security operatives have been stationed at the country’s borders to prevent the movement of essential food items from leaving Ghana.
He said food exporters now need a special permit from his boss before they can transport truckloads of food items from Ghana.
“Food security is national security,” the Deputy Minister told Joy FM on Tuesday, September 2021.
“The situation has arisen as a result of certain several factors. These factors include the global economic situation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that affected even the production of fertilizers…secondly the government also, because of revenue shortfalls had challenges with payments from suppliers and these actually affected agricultural production in this country.
“But that notwithstanding, the little that we had, we lowered our guard a little bit we felt that we had enough, so our neighbouring countries kept transporting our food products across the borders. Before we could say jack, we were running into shortages,” he said.
Mr Frimpong does not know how long this radical policy will remain but says “as long as we don’t have enough food for our poultry farmers, livestock farmers and all that; as long as the market has not stabilised it will continue.”
Meanwhile, there is a stern warning from Agric Workers Union about the government’s policy to ban food exports.
Edward Kareweh, the Union’s General Secretary has warned the government against complacency, reminding policymakers at the Agric Ministry that because Ghana imports other essential food items from neighbouring countries, the country may suffer a reprisal.
“There is free movement of goods and people in the ECOWAS protocol that is the reason we also bring in tomatoes and other foodstuffs from Burkina Faso. In that respect, if they [government] do not take care…no other foodstuff may come into our country. Because those countries too are probably going to take retaliatory measures,” he told Joy FM’s Top Story on Tuesday.
The drastic policy by the government seems like a vindication of John Mahama’s claim last week.
The former President and presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2020 elections predicted a likely food shortage by 2022 if the government does not pump more funds into the struggling Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
Mr Mahama said the rising cost of foodstuff in markets across the country is due to the government’s inability to fund the programme which was started by his administration.
“Before NPP government assumed office, we’d entered into an agreement with Canada and they gave us some funds to be invested into our agriculture. But the Akufo Addo government after inheriting the funds named it “Planting for Food and Jobs”, it was originally a programme that we were working on.”
Justifying why he asserts the Planting for Food & Jobs Programme is a failure, Mr Mahama stated that many farmers including his own brother are yet to receive fertilizers promised by the Akufo-Addo government.
“My brother is a farmer and he tells me this year, he has not received any fertilizer supply from government and so he bought his own fertilizer and a bag of fertilizer is very expensive. Normally, he cultivates 300 acres of maize each year. But this year, he had to reduce it, he was not able to cultivate even 80 acres. So there’s a possibility of food shortage next year because the Planting for Food & Jobs Programme has failed,” he had said.
Shortly after this government launched an attack on Mahama’s prediction, calling the former President a scaremonger.