Food price hikes hit hard on households – Agric expert calls for subsidy on farming inputs

Prices of basic food commodities are continuously on the rise each market day across major markets in Accra and Kasoa in the Central Region, a market survey by the Ghanaian Times has observed.

Prices of ingredients like tomatoes, pepper, garden eggs, and eggs had increased across the major markets surveyed on each visit.

A sack of gari, for instance, which used to sell at GHS1,600 last month, now goes for GHS 1,800, while the quantity of gari measured with the standard six-cup tin, locally referred to as olonka, which was previous­ly sold at GHS25.00, is being retailed at GHS28.00

With the daily minimum wage at GHS18.15, hikes in prices of basic foods appear to hit hard on household budgets, as fami­lies are grappling with having to adjust upwardly their budget for food almost every market day.

For instance, the market survey (at Agbogbloshie in Accra) showed that a bag of garden eggs which was sold at GHS600.00 a month ago was being sold at GHS699.00, while a mini-size bucket of red pepper, which was sol
d at GHS100.00, is now sold at GHS130.00, and a mini-size bucket of green pepper, which was sold at GHS70.00 was sell­ing at GHS85.00.

A sizeable bunch of ‘Kon­tomire’ (cocoyam leaves), which used to be sold at GHS5 and in some instance three for GHS10, was being sold at GHS10 per bunch at Kasoa market in the Central Region.

A tuber of yam goes for be­tween GHS30 to GHS35.

Also, a bucket of fresh toma­toes which used to be sold at GHS650.00 few days ago is now up at GHS750.00, while that of smashed and slightly rotten ones which were sold at GHS 200.00 is now sold at GHS400.00.

The survey in the Zongo communities showed that ‘Ku­likuli,’ ‘Massa,’ and ‘Koose’ made from groundnut paste, corn and bean dough, which are delicacies in the communities, sold between GHS1 and GHS2, up from between 20 pesewas and 50 pesewas.

In separate interviews with the Ghanaian Times, the cus­tomers and traders described the situation as unbearable.

According to some of them, they had to spend more than they used to when they
visited the market to make purchases, while others said they had to reduce the quantity of food prepared at home.

Traders, customers and agri­culture experts have called on the government to put in place appropriate measures to help address the situation.

Dr Nyaaba Charles, an agri­culture expert and Chief Execu­tive Officer of Akuafo Nketewa Company, the Business Unit of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, in an interview with the Ghanaian Times, said the hikes in prices of foodstuffs in the markets were due to the high cost of input used for production, some of which are imported.

According to him, farm im­ports such as tractors, agricul­tural machinery, spare parts and fertiliser were all subsidised by the government.

‘But over the past two years or so, these subsidies had been withdrawn by the government to the extent that a tractor which is today bought at $20, 000.00, from Europe attracts nearly $10,000.00 import duty, which was the not case a few years back,’ he stated.

He said a 40-foot contain
er of pesticides which used to cost about GHS 60,000 to clear from the port was now being cleared for about GHS166,000.

Dr. Nyaaba said the charge for tractor service to plough a farm for cultivation has gone up such that the farmer could not afford not to add all these costs to the produce as the final products.

Until these subsidies are restored by the government, he said the prices of farm produce will continue to rise, thereby leading to hikes in prices of basic staples in the major markets.

According to Mrs. Jane Yaa Boateng, a trader at the Agbogbloshie market, some traders contributed to the worrying situation of the price increment as they hoarded food commodities and sold them at higher prices when they became scarce.

Mr. Collins Obi, a hygiene supervisor, who bemoaned the cost of preparing food, said he used to spend GHS120 on the preparation of rice and stew for his family of six, but now spends GHS220.

Also, Nana Boakye, a car dealer, said he had increased the amount he gave to his family for
weekly upkeep from GHS1,000.00 to GHS1,500.00.

‘Now if you want to prepare the same quantity of food, it would be difficult because the prices of food commodities are expensive. So, you either have to add to the money you went to the market with previously or you reduce the quantity of food you prepare,’ he added.

Traders and shoppers at the Kasoa and Akweley markets in the Central Region are also grappling with soaring food prices, expressing worry that the increases in prices are driving away customers, leading to serious lower sales.

A 25kg bag of perfumed rice, which once sold for GHS650, has now gone up to GHS720, with price differentials in-between, depending on the brands.

Similarly, the cost of beans ranges from GHS500.00 to GHS900.00 per bag, reflecting the type and quality.

Prices of cooking oil have also skyrocketed, with gallons priced between GHS200 and GHS1,500 based on size and brand.

Prices of tubers of yam have seen significant increases as well; smaller tubers, which cost GHS15.00 just
three months ago, are now sold for GHS25.00, while larger tubers can cost up to GHS60.00.

Cassava and potatoes start from GHS20.00, and fruits have not been spared as a single pineapple costs between GHS15.00 and GHS20.00.

Tomatoes have become particularly expensive, with a bowlful going for GHS120 and a wholesale basket priced at a staggering GHS6,000.00 or more.

A trader at the Kasoa market, Mrs. Araba Ankrah, told the Ghanaian Times that the high cost of staples was impacting daily life in the market.

‘Sometimes our goods perish, leaving us in debt because customers cannot afford what we sell,’ she lamented.

Another trader, known as Auntie Mansah, who sells at the Akweley market, said ‘the situation gets worse by the day’ and expressed hope that things would improve as soon as possible.

Source: Ghana Web