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15.08.2003 General News

EDITORIAL: Food Glut, But We Must Make Hay...

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Last weekend, GTV did a report on the current food situation in Ghana and informed Ghanaians that there is a food glut in their country.

True, though, Ghanaians are wont to complain about all manner of things, so far, nobody is complaining about food - that is its unavailability.

GTV's team went to some of the "food baskets" of the country and the picture presented was a largess brimming over.

At least the basic staples like maize, yam, cassava, not imported fare, are in such abundant supply that, the farmers are having difficulties in disposing of their stocks.

On camera, some of the food distributors expressed frustration, however, about the transportation and other logistical problems hampering the distribution of the food to other parts of the country.

They appealed to the government to step in and help with the problem of storage and distribution.

Good news, we are told, is no news and so even in the midst of this cornucopia, the stories doing the headlines in the newspapers and FM stations hardly mention our full bellies as one of the small mercies we should be thankful for!

The problems of storage and distribution have bedeviled Ghanaian agriculture for decades. To that we must also add irrigation.

Luckily for us, the past two years have not seen us go through debilitating "lean periods" as food supply has been fairly stable year round; but we cannot take that for granted.

Food security cannot be left to chance alone. With the rain-fed agricultural system that obtains in Ghana, we require extensive storage and processing capacities to take care of the kind of "excess" our food growers and distributors are now "complaining" about.

This is one area the Ministries of Food and Agriculture and Private Sector Development can team up on to enable viable food storage, processing and distribution companies, employing modern methods and techniques to step into the breach.

The state-owned Food Distribution Corporation has gone the way of similar state-controlled bureaucracies - moribund, but that does not mean that Ghana does not need well-organised and resourced food distribution companies to trade in food and also act as the nation's strategic food buffers.

As we enjoy our glut, we must not forget that just one failed rainy season and we are back to square one...

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