The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) says the hike in prices of some food items, including beans and maize is largely due to the influx of foreign buyers from neighbouring countries.
Mr Seth Osei Akoto, the Director of Crop Services at MoFA, said the Ministry's assessment of the situation in some parts of the country showed that some farmers preferred to sell their harvests to buyers from Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria and other neighbouring countries at higher prices.
That practice has far-reaching implications on food prices at the local market, he told journalists at the opening of the 8th annual conference of the Regional Network of Agricultural Research Institutes (ReNAPRI) at Legon, near Accra on Wednesday.
"The latest report I have received from Berekum indicates a bag of beans was initially selling at 150 cedis per 100 kilos. As soon as the influx of these Nigerians and Burkinabe came in, they (farmers) are charging 350 cedis. ...and when prices shoot up in one area, in some cases it affects all other areas," he said.
Mr Akoto said though the farmers were making money from the foreigners, it was essential for the country to protect its harvests "so that we don't experience famine in the near future."
"After the farmers have harvested, we need to protect what we are harvesting. Even when we have bumper harvest we sit down and let other people to come and buy and take all the stock away and once they do that in certain months of the year we experience famine," he said.
The 2021 ReNAPRI conference is being hosted by the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana.
The annual conference brings together agricultural policy research institutes based in East, Central, South and West Africa to engage in strategic dialogue with key stakeholders, aimed at providing evidence-based guidance to African governments.
Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana, urged the Government to equip farmers with business development skills to enable them run their profession as a business activity.
She said subsidies offered by the government on agricultural inputs were not sustainable, hence the need to support farmers to diversify their activities to offer them decent income and sustainable jobs.
“If we can equip and support farmers to do that, the sector will become attractive to investor capital because investors will be assured of a reasonable return on their investment,” she said.
Prof. Peter Quartey, the Director of ISSER, called for more investment in agriculture and the adoption of technology to maximise the gains of farmers and contribution of the sector to the economy.