Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Price of Foodstuffs on the Market

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:

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.”

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.”

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.’

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.”

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.”

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.”

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”

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.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I live in Accra but I come from here (Mando) and I must say that I am impressed by all I have seen since I came back home a few days ago. One thing which struck me most is the massive expansion of electricity to many homes and neighbouring villages where there wasn’t electricity. I have also noticed that the children and the elderly aren’t carrying buckets of water like they used to do and which is an indication that pipe borne water has reached many homes here at Mando. I have also noticed that many more new buildings are springing up but the pot holes on the roads leading to this town are just too many. My siblings have also told me that there is a lot of reproductive health education going on under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and that is a very good programme which would impact positively on the youth in this area especially the female gender.”

There is a festival currently going on here and what it has done is that it has brought home our brothers and sisters from various parts of the country. As you can see everyone is happy and there is reunion of all the family on this festive occasion. My brother, it would interest you to know that there are many of our kinsmen from this village who’re working in influential positions in the capital and various parts of the country and I therefore want to use your medium to plead with them so that they come back home and help their brothers and sisters who are not in any employment. A good son of this land would not come and parade his wealth before us whilst ordering beer and khebab for his friends. There are many issues which must be tackled here at Mando and the time has come for them to realize the need for them to come home and together we can think through what can be done to make Mando the best in Ajumako.

I have come here at the invitation of my friend and what I have seen since I arrived has exceeded my expectation. Firstly, I do not think it would be proper for anyone to call this place a village because there are quite a number of infrastructures here. At least I have seen what one can call a health post and I hear it is serving a number of people even from the neighbouring villages. Unlike elsewhere in the Central Region, I suspect there aren’t a lot of cases of teenage pregnancy in this place and that is very encouraging. The youth are also very lively and friendly and I am really enjoying my stay here.”

We have come from various parts of the country to sell because of the Mando-Akwambo festival which is currently taking place here. Compared to last year, the festival has not been patronized to my satisfaction but I also want to believe that they would come at the end of the week because some of them are finding it difficult to leave their work. There is also a remarkable improvement in the extension of electricity to various parts of this village and that I believe would encourage a lot of business. However, the roads are just too bad and if something is not done about it, I would not be surprised if accidents occur on the roads. One other issue is that a good number of the young ones in this area do not have any employable skills and that for me is a problem. I would therefore urge the government to extend a programme like the fish farming brigade to this place. There is so much land over here which can be used for the tilapia farming programme because there is a lot of market for it and I believe the youth would embrace any such intervention whole heartedly.”

Honourable Ato Forson has done a lot for the people in his constituency and we need to commend him for the hard work and humility with which he is working. There are lots of challenges but I believe he has applied the qualities of a good leader and it is beginning to manifest in most places in his constituency. I also believe that the relationship between the Member of Parliament and the District Chief Executive has also helped in the transformation process. However, I am embarrassed by the fact that there isn’t any public place of convenience here at Mando and that is a great worry for me. The people mobilized resources and tried building one sometime ago but that got worn out and I am wondering how the visitors coming to this village are going to manage.”

I am currently working with a gold mining company in the Ashanti Region and I have come home to mark the Akwambo festival. Akwambo simply means clearing the path of weed and it is marked every year. During this time of the raining season, the bushes grow wild taking over the paths to the farms and our houses so people are mobilized to clear the paths of these weeds and that is where the name “Akwambo” comes from which means clearing the path or charting a path. Well, I have done a lot of weeding ever since I arrived and I have certainly taken active part in this festival. Apart from weeding the family home, I also took time off and did some clearing of weeds on my father’s farm. I also want to take advantage of your media to wish President Mills well as he is striving so hard to transform this country. A lot has gone the wrong way before he came but nonetheless he has stood firm and I know that by the time he completes his second term of office, Ghana would have become a better place where unemployment, disease and crime would have certainly become a thing of the past.”

One good thing which has happened to this community is the electricity which is now present in many homes here at Mando. The Technical School has also been upgraded and renovated very recently and that is a very good sign of better things to happen in the future for this community.
 One other development which has brought so much relief to this village is the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme. The scheme is working very well over here that has sered as a lifeline to many people who’ve fallen ill over the period. However, I must say that poverty abounds in this village and it can sometimes get very frightening. A majority of the youth are without any skill and is not into any gainful employment therefore drawing back the forward march of this great community. If you are not careful and happen to fall pregnant under the current conditions, then you are not likely to get it easy because there wouldn’t be any immediate support for you and your baby but I believe that gradually the community is growing and things are likely to change.”

We are here to participate in the celebration of our festival and it has given us another opportunity to meet friends we have not seen in a very long while. I have seen a lot of changes upon arrival and the first one happens to be about telecommunication. Not long ago the reception for this place was very poor and one could hardly receive phone calls but I think there has been a remarkable improvement in that service. What we need now is employment opportunities for the youth especially those who haven’t had the benefit of formal education. As you can see the youth are full of life and energy and we need to harness that towards the development of Mando. We do not want to go and add up to our brothers hawking on the pavement and streets of Accra and that is why we are appealing to the authorities to come to our aid.”