In the wake of the lockdown in two major regions of the country, the Alliance for Development and Industrialisation (ADI) is urging the Ministry of Finance to make resources available for the growth of agriculture.
These resources, according to ADI, should be aimed at strengthening the operations and output of farmers under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) so the country could be assured of food security after the Covid-19 crisis.
“We want to reiterate that the government needs to release funds for the rural folks to continue with their farming activities which would reduce rural -urban drift” the agro-based think tank said in a press release.
According to the ADI, after its preliminary assessment of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, is predicting that there would a major food crisis if the Ministry of Agriculture and the Finance Ministry fail to take pragmatic measures to address the needs and challenges of farmers under the PFJ programme.
In the statement issued in Accra and signed by Francis Mensah, the Convener of the group, ADI said the possible scarcity of food after the Covid-19 pandemic may lead to commodity price inflation.
“Food inflation has been in single digit for the past six months or so which has resulted into lower inflation for the country. However during the recent partial lockdown, prices of food commodity went up astronomically due to panic buying which may not drop now,” the group said.
The lockdown, ADI said, has resulted in the rise of food consumption within households and may exert some pressure on the available food in the system.
“Some farmers have hidden their food stuff because of this pandemic and want to sell them off at higher prices within the crisis period, but beyond the crisis period where are we going to get the food to buy. If care is not taken, by the end of September this year there would food scarcity in the country,” the think tank said.
“This is why the ADI is asking the Finance Ministry to release resources for quick cultivation and harvesting of commodities like rice and maize. Let’s not use the crises to lose sight of our immediate needs to stabilize our commodity stocks.
“For example, for protein crops like sorghum millet, soya beans which are grown in the Northern part of country, we should expect these crops being grown in Bono and Ahafo regions of the country, so it can be abundant,’ it said.
It added: “The government should also take steps in making sure that stable crops’ affordability availability and accessibility is guaranteed, which would help check food inflation. The government must consider post-harvest handling, packaging, storage, bagging and processing of these crops.”
ADI said farmers must be allowed to start farming and be educated to keep washing their hands with soup under running water as well as the use of hand sanitizer.
Additionally, the government must also allow institutions who deal in agricultural inputs and related materials to be allowed to operate so that farmers would not lack any material during their preparation and cultivation of farm produce, ADI said.