Gov’t should establish efficient food distribution enterprise – Food scientist

For efficiency in the distribution of root and tuber food crops, government is being urged to establish a body for their improvement and marketing.

In an interview with Goldstreet Business, Dr. Felix Engman, a Senior Lecturer and Food Scientist at Kumasi Technical University opined that, due to the high perishability of these food crops, resulting from their high moisture content, the body can buy and then distribute to other parts of the country where they are not produced.

Dr. Engman said “in the process, this would help reduce post-harvest losses, as well as guarantee market for farmers who are engaged in producing these food crops.”

The country’s current cassava production, for instance, is estimated at 18 million metric tons. Nevertheless, research shows that, cassava production levels could hit 30 million metric tons a year through the adoption of best farming practices by farmers.

Modern storage facilities such as silos, warehousing with dry facilities, among others, are not in existence in the rural municipalities.  The main types of storage facilities in use are the traditional barns, a few improved cribs and roof storage.

From 2007 to 2014, the root and tuber improvement and marketing programme (RTIMP), funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Ghana (GoG) was implemented under the Ministry of Food And Agriculture.

This programme was targeted at building a competitive market-based Root and Tuber Commodity Chain (RTCC) supported by relevant, effective and sustainable services that are available to the rural poor.

Currently, the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) is the body that ensures the security of farmers, through an assured income for them by providing a minimum guaranteed price and ready market.

NAFCO is further mandated to mop up excess produce from all farmers in order to reduce post-harvest losses resulting from spoilage due to poor storage, thereby protecting farm incomes, among others.

Nonetheless, Dr Engman noted that, “if you have a body, then they can set the prices which would be guaranteed for farmers; with farmers knowing that there is a guaranteed market and an equitable price, they would go into the production.”

He said middle men take advantage of farmers with the current situation by fixing unfair prices.

By Joshua W. Amlanu