Ghana: Impact of food prices on rice farmers
Higher food prices have pushed millions of people in developing countries further into hunger and poverty. Here are some recent examples of small farmers trying to cope, and what Oxfam is doing to help.
Victoria Asalyinga is a single mother with four children in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, Ghana. She is a small farmer.
“The floods last year destroyed almost all our crops so I have had to buy food from the market, and it’s more expensive every week,” says Victoria Asalyinga, a rice farmer and single mother of four, in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, Ghana.
“Fertilizer has doubled in price so I haven’t been able to buy any, and this year my harvest will be less. Many farmers are borrowing money from market traders to buy food until the harvest comes but they are not getting good prices.”
“Part of our house fell down in the floods and we haven’t been able to repair it properly. You must prepare a meal for those who come to help rebuild, but for months we did not have any food to give.”
How Oxfam is helping
Oxfam is working with rural communities and farmers like Victoria to help them cope with rising prices. In Bolgatanga, Oxfam is supporting a single mothers’ center to help farmers process their rice, and also learn new skills to provide alternative sources of income.
“I sell shea butter, weave baskets and work at a single mothers’ rice processing center which helps,” says Victoria. “But it is not easy to feed my family. Sometimes, when there is not enough to go round, I eat less.
“There was a school feeding program which helped as it gave the children lunch, but it was stopped. Now I have to hope I have something to give them when they return from school. Some days I do not.”
John Quaye runs a food wholesalers in Sanya Beraku, a fishing village in Western Ghana.
“Five months ago we noticed prices of imported goods started going up,” says John Quaye, who runs a food wholesalers in Sanya Beraku, a fishing village in Western Ghana. ”Prices have risen every few weeks and they’re still going up. In January 50 kilos of imported rice were 35 cedis (approximately $32), now it’s 50 ($88). Imported cooking oil was 25 cedis ($44), now it’s 48 ($84).”
“Food sellers say far fewer people are buying cooked food. People in Sanya Beraku cannot afford these high prices but have no choice. The situation is getting worse because the only work in the village is fishing and fish prices have not changed. Fishermen are catching fewer fish. Even when they have good days the price of fish drops because they have no storage facilities here.”
“The price of flour has doubled. We’ve stopped selling flour because no one buys it. Overall people buy far less now. Our sales have gone down by half. Yesterday was Saturday. It should be our busiest day of the week but we only made 95 cedis ($86). Six months ago on a Saturday we averaged 500 cedis (over $438). Today I have not made a single sale. This is the worst business has been for 25 years.”
Though food prices are rising across the globe, small farmers are generally still not able to benefit from higher prices. The net effect on developing countries has been overwhelmingly negative. Oxfam is calling on governments to invest more in supporting agriculture, focused on small farmers and women.