The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has rejected claims that Ghana has added importation of plantain to its long list of food items imported into the country.
The 2016 flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo Addo, accused government of starving the agric sector of investment to the extent that it now imports plantain.
He said during Kufuor’s regime, the bill for food import was at $600 million, but the NDC led by the late President John Mills and John Mahama, constantly criticized them.
He however noted that the food import bill under the NDC administration has shot up to $1.6 billion.
“When Kufuor was leaving in 2008, the import food bill for our country was $600 million, Mills and Mahama criticized Kufuor for his performance and promised to reduce it. Last year, the food import bill of our country was $1.5 billion. We are now importing plantain into Ghana. Agriculture, which in Kufuor’s last year was growing at 7.4% in 2008, this year was 0.04%.”
But speaking on Eyewitness News, the Deputy Minister of Agric, Ahmed Alhassan, said the claims cannot be true because there is excess of the product on the market. Ahmed Alhassan, who is also the MP for Mion said the agric sector’s share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is 2.4% and not 0.004% as stated by Nana Addo.
“…There is no shortage of this commodity. I can tell you that in 2015, this country’s farmers produced 17 million metric tonnes of cassava; we need just about half of that to feed the population. This country’s farmers produced 3.9 million metric tonnes of plantain; we need about 2.3 million metric tonnes to feed the population. We do not import such products.”
“The supply into the market is a regulatory price receiving; that doesn’t mean we are importing into the country. And I’m saying that the statistics of what we have in the country is certainly more than what we need to consume,” the Deputy Agric Minister added.
Lately, there has been an acute shortage of plantain across the country, with traders of the commodity partly blaming this on the destruction of farm lands by recalcitrant Fulani herdsmen.