The Ministry of Agriculture says there is enough food to take care of the nation during the partial lockdown period and, therefore, correcting the perception that there might be shortage of foodstuffs going forward.
Some citizens have raised concerns on social media about whether or not the nation has enough food should the lockdown in Greater Accra, Greater Kumasi and the Awutu Senya area be extended.
Already, there have been some unreasonable prices quoted by traders of foodstuffs in the market.
But a deputy Agriculture Minister, Kennedy Nyarko Osei, said: “I can assure you there is no need for the mad rush. I’m sure by the close of the week, there are a lot of food that will come into the system or into the lockdown areas; everybody can go and purchase, even prices will come down.”
“The government, through the Buffer Company or NAFCO is doing its part, we are in a free market economy, so, those players, the key private sectors that are already playing their roles to support this country have to take advantage of this crucial period or this two-week period and also go out and bring the foodstuff so that people have access it.
“If all of us decided that we won’t go out even though they say: ‘We should go out and we’re not ready to go out’, then that is where there is going to be a problem, because if the transporter says: ‘I have shut my truck down and I’m not going to move it’, and the market woman says: ‘OK, me, too, I just want to sell the few ones that I have and I’m not going to go out and bring foodstuffs, that is where we will have problems…we haven’t gotten there yet”, he told Accra-based Joy FM.
On the issue of prices, he said: “We need to encourage ourselves to consume what our farmers produce, then all this fear of food items not coming from other countries to our country, in the era where countries want to contain COVID-19, will be allayed.
He added that the nation has begun gradually starting to reduce the importation of rice in order to meet the 2022 target.
“We have given ourselves by 2022, as a country, to be self-sufficient when it comes to rice production; that’s our target… we are getting there gradually. Until we get to a point where we are self-sufficient, it will not be wise or advisable to just say we cut or stop importation of certain items, especially rice into the country, so, gradually, we will start reducing the importation of rice per what we are producing locally so by 2020, we will stop it.
“If we are not able to stop it 100%, at least stop 90% importation of rice into the country.”
Every year, the consumption of rice keeps going up. This means local producers will have to double up their efforts to meet demand.