The Ghanaian Times lead story today provides evidences of high prices of foodstuffs.
Traders attribute the cut-throat prices to the hike in prices of petroleum products.
What the traders are saying in effect is that once prices of petroleum products are increased, drivers increase the charges for goods they carry from wherever to the market or any other point where they are sold even if they do not raise fares.
Obviously, the trader would also transfer the increased charges to the consumer by increasing the prices of goods.
The traders’ position can be accepted as one way by which prices of goods, including foodstuffs, can rise but that is not the only cause.
The exchange rate, that is the value of the cedi to other currencies like the dollar in particular, can increase prices of foodstuffs, especially imported food items.
Also, some Ghanaian traders have the proclivity for profiteering because there is no check from anywhere.
Besides, some may be increasing prices of foodstuffs and other products merely as sabotage to make the government unpopular.
In the circumstances, there is the need for measures to stabilise
prices, including checking the exchange rate and some semblance of price control.
This is important because among the needs of man food, including water, is the most important because while some people can ignore certain things because they can live without them or cannot afford them, both the poor and the rich cannot survive without food.
Food provides the nutrients for growth and welbeing, as it makes children in particular to grow and gives adults the energy and strength to go about their socioeconomic activities to make wealth for themselves and contribute to the development of the country.
The problem is that when food prices go very high, the low- and middle-income earners feel the brunt the most.
The way out is that they avoid the high-nutrient foodstuffs and go for dregs, which has serious implications for their health.
It is being trumpeted everywhere that fruits, for instance, are good for the health of everyone but the problem is that even middle-income earners cannot afford them consistently.
Without even any serious survey, it can be concluded that not a very good number of people consume fruits in the country.
Image a family of just four people going by the axiom “an apple a day is good for your health”, when a medium-size apple sells at GH¢4.
An apple can hardly satisfy the average person, so the person would avoid it and buy something else with the GH¢4.
The bigger problem is that once incomes remain static but prices increase, the purchasing power of people get eroded, meaning even the little quantities of foodstuffs they can buy now would reduce with time because of weak purchasing power.
The Ghanaian Times would like to suggest that while the powers that be think of how to resolve the current hardship in the country, particularly with regard to ever-rising prices of foodstuffs, they must consider the implications of land use for food availability, scarcity and prices.
Why does the State look on unconcerned while farmlands around towns are being turned into built environments?
If this is allowed to continue, local food production would drastically reduce, considering the elementary technology we employ in agriculture, and the country would have to import food.
The result would be increased debt burden, food insecurity and all their implications.