Government must invest in food security like it did with dumsor – Nana Okyir Baidoo

A woman selling tomatoes in a market in Dedza, Malawi, along the border with Mozambique.

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Former Director of Operations at ESOKO, Nana Okyir Baidoo, says while short terms fixes are currently necessary to address food inflation in the country, government should be more interested in long term solutions.

According to him, the current food inflation crisis, even though partly as a result of the declining cedi and fuel price hikes, is mainly a structural problem which needs to be solved.

Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express, Nana Okyir Baidoo said, “There are quick fixes. It can get so bad that we will begin to do things like price controls, or we could begin to restrict food exports – which we have started doing. But those are short term fixes.

“What is happening is a structural issue which is being exacerbated by other fractions such as the increase in fuel prices and then our currency depreciation. What we actually need to do is to solve the systemic price of our productivity.

“If we are able to produce more locally and we are exporting less then we probably will be shielded a little from the effects of currency and fuel price increases.”

To halt the current food inflation, he says it may be time for government to intensify its short term fixes to reduce the burden on local consumers, without reneging on solutions to solve the crisis once and for all.

“And so for me I think the short term fixes are probably necessary but they’re not the way to go. It is investment in high yielding varieties, investing in plants that will give us produce and agricultural inputs like fertilizer and co. locally that will help so we don’t have to depend on phosphates from China which has been banned since last year.

“Things like that which will go a long way to solving this problem long term just as we did for dumsor in 2012/13 and we don’t have a dumsor problem now. I think the same level of investments, the same level of urgency needs to go in fixing this structural productivity problem that we have,” he said.

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