The Price of Foodstuffs on the Market

Introduction:
Ghana has had a fairly good amount of rainfall over the past 3 months and that has had an impact in the production of food crops in all the farming areas of the country. The Ghana Statistical Service has also reported that the downward trend in Ghana’s inflationary rate can be partly attributed to the successes chalked in the agricultural sector.
What the People Say brings you views from market women at the Mallam Atta market in Accra:


ADISA IBRAHIM (TOMATO PASTE SELLER)
The stability in the price of fuel, petrol and diesel especially has affected the prices of food items positively over sometime now and it is likely to be so as we draw nearer to the end of the year. The nature of the prices of food stuffs sold on the market are such that when the price of fuel is increased it affects the income of the drivers and they have no option than to increase the cost of transportation and that is what is reflected on the prices of the food items sold on the market. The roads being constructed across the length and breadth of the country is also another factor because the haulers of the food items from the farms do not have to spend so much in the purchase of spare parts for their vehicles.”


DORCAS LARBI (MELON SELLER)
The prices of food items here in this market have been stable over a considerable period of time but others have witnessed marginal increases. For instance those food items which are imported into the country have become really expensive and many traders are losing their customers over this situation. A bag of imported potato was selling GHC 50 very recently but the cost has shot up to GHC 80 because of the import duty and that for me is a headache for importers of that food items. If the government wants to encourage the consumption of locally grown potatoes then they should say so because we are finding it difficult to understand these drastic increases in import duty of these food items.”


NANA YAA BOAKYE (COSMETICS DEALER)
I deal in the sale of cosmetics here at the Mallam Atta market and I have to say that the civil unrest that took place in Abidjan affected my trade greatly. Some of us had no option than to sit home and suspend our trade for a while because the rebels were really harassing the traders and the few who mustered courage to go and buy these beauty enhancing products from La Cote d’I voire stood the chance of being raped or got killed by a stray bullet. For this reason, a product like Eversheen Cocoa butter and other cosmetics were being sold at exorbitant prices for some months. However, the situation seems to have normalized and the prices have fallen once again. I also want to thank President Mills for his role in bringing peace to that country other than which, a good number of people would have been deprived of their livelihood.’






MAAME YAA DANQUAH (TOMATO TRADER)
I sell tomato, pepper and garden eggs and the prices of these items have remained stable for some time now and they are likely to fall during the period of harvest. What threatened the market was the closure of the Bourkina Faso border some few weeks ago and during that time the prices of tomato especially shot up. People often ask why we prefer the tomato from Bourkina to that of Ghana and the answer to that question is that, apart from the quality, their tomato is often affordable and can go for a considerable number of days without getting rotten. I am also aware that some traders also purchase their tomatoes from Ghanaian farmers so it is not as if they have been left to their fate and no one is purchasing their tomatoes. I also know for a fact that they have a huge market from the School Feeding Programme which often purchases a huge chunk of their farm produce.”


FAUSTINA QUARCOO (GINGER TRADER)
As from next month I believe that the prices of cassava and plantain especially would fall. The rainfall came at a very good time and it lasted for some time thereby contributing to a bountiful yield of farm produce. However I must say that certain farming communities had too much of it and it has destroyed their farms.
Certain food items such as water melon do not also like too much rainfall during the maturity period so when the rainfall came very strongly in areas where farmers often grow water melons, they made huge loses. The other problem is that when the food stuffs are sold cheaper, it affects the income of the market women because there would be no competition and those who have bought the food items in huge quantities to sell are those who worsen the situation because the cheaper they sell the products the more likely they are to court the consumers to their side.”


JANET BOAKYE (PLANTAIN SELLER)
The first thing we must bear in mind is that all food items sold in this country apart from the exported ones come with seasons and therefore their prices would never remain the same especially when the conditions are right. If the food stuffs are in season and yet the cost of transportation does not change, the prices would not reflect on the general market and the consumer would not benefit. Between the months of June and July, plantain was very expensive but the prices have dropped as we entered the month of August because the conditions of good rainfall and the stability in the prices of fuel have caused that change in trend thereby bringing relief to consumers. The plantain is in season and they are likely to be sold at affordable prices until December.”


ABLA ADJIGA (MAIZE TRADER)
I have sold maize for close to 20 years and what many people do not know is that it is the market that determines the prices of food items. I can purchase a sack of maize at one price and sell it at another or very expensively and that is what people must know and to take notice of. There is not an authority which determines how much a particular commodity must sell and therefore you are not likely to get a genuine picture of how much a particular food item must sell. Transportation plays a key role in our trade and since we do not have direct support from the government, it would be very difficult for it to come and dictate how much one food item must sell to the other. Until the state intervenes in farming, the prices of food items would never remain stable and the consumer would often have to bear the consequences for good or for bad”


MILLICENT PIASAH (ORANGE TRADER)
I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and I am of the conviction that it is possible for the farmers of this country, if given the needed support to feed the whole of West Africa. At any given moment you are very much likely to find a farmer who is looking for a market for his farm produce. At the same time there are many citizens of this country who are striving for a meal a day. Why is it not possible for the state to set up a market which would purchase the produce of the farmers and sell them affordably to the general public? Individuals are in trades of all kinds of food items because of the gains they expect to make after the day without considering the purchasing power of the consumer and that is why the state must also be interested in trade in the interest of the poor Ghanaian who might not have the means to purchase these imported food items with low nutritional content.”


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