Friday, September 12, 2014

Ghana should be a net food exporter not an importer

Ghana and other African countries are perfectly capable of producing enough food to feed themselves and having a surplus left over to export. Unfortunately in Ghana most everything including food is now imported from outside of the African continent. If you go to a shop to buy biscuits they are from Sri Lanka. If you want fruit juice it is from South Africa. If you want mayonnaise it is imported from the United Arab Emirates. Ketchup is from Brunei. Even rice which used to be grown in abundance in Ghana is now mostly imported from Thailand. Just about the only two processed foods produced in Ghana that I see on a regular basis are shito sauce and bissap. If I ever do see imported shito sauce though I am pretty sure that is a sign that the Ghanaian economy has no hope what so ever. Agriculture and food processing seem like a logical place to start for an import substitution program to reduce the flow of foreign exchange out of the country. I noticed this summer when I was in Bishkek that locally produced condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and hot sauce could be found in just about every grocery store at prices much lower than imported versions. Except for shito sauce that is not the case here. You can't find Ghanaian ketchup and mayonnaise for the most part at any price yet alone ones that seriously undercut imports from Brunei and the UAE. A buy Ghanaian campaign is only going to work if there are Ghanaian manufactured goods available in the stores to buy at competitive prices. So far policies to effect such a situation have eluded the Ghanaian government.

No comments: