The Minority caucus in Ghana’s Parliament has criticised the Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s (MoFA) PJF market intervention policy.
The PJF market intervention is MoFA’s idea of selling agricultural products at vantage points in urban centres at cheaper prices so as to mitigate the current food inflation in the country.
The Minority’s ranking member on Parliament’s Food and Agriculture committee, Hon. Eric Opoku, was not pleased with the intervention, calling it shallow and unsustainable.
Is it the case that everybody around Accra can go to that market [PJF market] to buy plantain, So how sustainable is it? How do you think this will work? It is too shallow.Eric Opoku, Ranking Member of Committee of Agric
The Asunafo South MP added that the Minority wants to “see very concrete sustainable measures that will bring down food prices in the country.”
The NDC MP noted that because the Christmas festivities are fast approaching, the prices of other agricultural products like chicken, rice, goats and eggs will shoot up.
He insinuated that it was impossible for MoFA to sell all these essentials food products like it is currently selling plantains at the PJF markets. And so, he advised that MoFA works to reduce cost of production for all farm products instead.
“If you want to subsidise agricultural products, you must [first] subsidise production. The cost of producing these food items is very very high. So you’ve to look at the input, and then subsidise agriculture from that level.”Eric Opoku, Ranking Member of Committee of Agric
According to him, there are two main essential matters to tackle first if government wants foodstuffs to sell at cheaper prices.
The first thing to look at in Eric Opoku’s opinion, is the exchange rates.
Since Ghana does not produce all the foods it needs locally, but is heavily dependent on other countries for other agricultural products, the MP advised government to work towards bringing down the exchange rates.
Eric Opoku claimed that when the exchange rates become stabilised, the cost of purchasing food on the international market will reduce and the prices of imported foods on our local markets will reduce significantly.
Also, he advised government to stabilise fuel prices. “Whenever fuel prices go up, it also affects food because you’ve to transport the food,” he noted.
“We must also think about transportation. Even [with] the food that is produced here in Ghana, you’ve to transport them to the urban centres where most of these products are consumed. And the cost of transportion [keep rising] because of the incessant rise in the prices of petroleum products. So what mechanisms are we putting in place to arrest that?”Eric Opoku, Ranking Member of Committee of Agric
The PJF Market Intervention
Agric Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto on Wednesday, November 09, 2022, while speaking on the floor of Parliament, reiterated government’s commitment to ensuring there is enough affordable foodstuffs for all Ghanaians.
The Minister disclosed that, data gathered by the Ministry showed a massive disparity between prices of foods at the production areas and how much they are sold at the urban centres. This he claimed was due to the costs within the value chain.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto made Parliament aware of the intention of the Ministry to transport food from the rural production areas to Accra as a way of dealing with the rising food inflation situation.
This initiative which has become known as the PJF markets intervention, falls under MoFA’s flagship policy, ‘Planting for Food and Jobs.’
The first truckload of food items arrived from the various farm gates to the Ministry of Agriculture office on Friday, November 11, 2022.
The pilot market started at the Ministry of Agric’s office and has since been extended to Okaishie, Tunu and some other markets in the country.
MoFA said the plan was to establish six (6) PJF markets.
Meanwhile, while some have said the cost of foodstuffs at the various PJF markets are cheaper than the cost elsewhere, others have said there is no significant difference in the prices.