A former Research Scientist with the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Professor Roger Kanton, has downplayed the feasibility of plans by the Ministry for Food and Agriculture to cart food products from rural areas and sell at the Ministry in Accra.
The Minister for Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, on Wednesday, reiterated the government’s intention to transport food from the rural areas to Accra in a bid to deal with rising food inflation.
According to Dr Akoto, data gathered by the Ministry shows massive disparities between prices at the production areas and urban centres due to the costs within the value chain.
“Prices in urban areas, particularly in Accra, are a far cry from what pertains in production centres in the regions…Government and the Ministry are arranging to transport food from the production centres directly to Accra to provide food at reasonable prices.”
But speaking on the Professor Kanton, described the move as bizarre, adding that the Agric Minister is embarking on an initiative his ministry does not have the competence and capacity to execute.
“I want you to ask him, is that the mandate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture? Is there now going to be a constitutional shift in its mandate, to now go into haulage, marketing and food distribution,” Professor Kanton asked.
He added “does he have the capacity, moving food from rural areas to urban centres, ask the Minister if he is conversant and acquainted with the agricultural value chain. The agricultural value chain has a lot of actors or players, so you cannot leave your chain and act on somebody’s chain.”
“There is a whole organization that is tasked to take off excess food from farmers and that is the buffer stock, my question is how well they have functioned. They keep saying that there is enough food, then they should deploy people from buffer stock, why is he using his scanty resources as the technical ministry to wade into an area that they don’t have the competence…I find it to be a little bit bizarre.”