[Feature] Killer Inflation, Kalabule, Missed Agriculture Opportunities

“I came here just yesterday and you said the price of this bag of rice is GH¢75 cedis why is it GH¢110 today?

The Kalypo too has gone up

Why?

Do you people want to kill us with these kalabule prices?” the customer fumed before reluctantly paying for the goods.

The shop owner responded that if she sold the rice and the juice at the prices she quoted the day before, she would have less to stock her shop the next time she ordered goods.

These scenes are played out across the country daily.

Prices are shooting up akin to what happened in the 1970s and 1980s when the term ‘kalabule’ gained popularity.

Kalabule describes the arbitrary increase in goods and the whipping of market men and women who refuse to adhere to control prices imposed by military governments to tame price increases.

Then as it is today, many civil and public servants agitated for improved conditions of service, with the sad reality that the government is a broke bloke.

Events over the last few months point to the fact that we are back to the dark moments of that economic tragedy that robbed people’s incomes and reduced savings to nothing.

We are at the cusp of the economic difficulty that the Bretton Woods Institutions predicted during COVID-19 pandemic, that we paid not much attention to.

“As coronavirus-weary countries enter the third year of the pandemic, global growth is expected to slow sharply.

Against this difficult backdrop, a variety of economic challenges mount for emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) – including continued COVID-19 outbreaks, elevated inflation, record debt levels, and rising income inequality.”

In Ghana, food prices alone is enough to cripple most households.

The World Bank in October pegged Ghana’s food inflation at a record 124 per cent – the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is a roll back of all the country has achieved under the sustainable development goals (SDGs) One and Two to eliminate poverty and reduce hunger.

Rate

The rate of inflation is one that would take some countries more than 50 years to record.

But we are doing so in weeks.

Many wonder why prices of locally sourced staples have also spiked, although they are not in the basket of imported goods.

The sad reality is that the astronomical increment in food prices has a lot to do with fuel inflation.

No commercial driver would buy a litre of diesel at GH¢15 or petrol at GH¢15 and charge less for carting goods.

The government is unwilling to remove taxes on fuel or subsidise from its windfall from crude oil price increases at the global level.

And for the imported goods, the cedi depreciation and the government’s efforts make it look like we will be stuck with the songs of lamentation for a long time to come.

For a country that is implementing an idea as noble as Planting for Food and Jobs, it is ironic that our import bill continues to expand like a lazy man’s pot belly.

We are importing onion and tomatoes from Sahelian countries, that have nothing close to the vegetation we have — the soils, the rivers and the rain — but we can’t cultivate enough to feed ourselves.

P4J

Planting for Food and Jobs should have been our martial plan to feed ourselves and export to some of the food-deprived parts of the world, but it has been left wobbly.

To think that hundreds of poultry farms across Ghana are fast collapsing because of the cost of feed should make our policymakers bow their heads in shame and rethink the implementation of the policy.

As a result, the price of egg is fast increasing.

A crate of egg which cost GH¢15 at this time in 2021 has gone up as high as GH¢52.

This is putting egg, the cheapest of source of protein, beyond the means of many impoverished households.

Is this the same country that fed itself during the days of ‘Operation Feed Yourself’, when farm machinery had not developed to the level of sophistication we have today?

If we continue this way, our country could end up being plunged into the economic chaos that happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, Argentina, and more recently Sri Lanka.

The signs are on the wall, let’s be careful.

Dr Paul Kofi Fynn – Founder and Chancellor of WIUC-Ghana

The writer is the founder and Chancellor of the Wisconsin International University College/Immediate past President-General of West Africa Nobles Forum.

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