The World Food Programme (WFP) has within the past five years bought 5,000 metric tonnes of maize worth US$2 million from smallholder farmers across the nation as efforts to transform their livelihoods intensifies.
Ms. Magdalena Moshi, its Country Director, who announced this said the strategic direction was to leverage its purchasing power more effectively and support the sustainable development of food security by improving the lives of low-income farmers.
She was addressing a workshop on the “Adoption and institutionalization of weights and measures” for smallholder farmers and other stakeholders at Fumesua in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality.
It was jointly organized by the WFP, the Food and Agriculture Ministry (MOFA), Ghana Standards Authority and the Trade and Industry Ministry.
The programme brought together farmer groups, officials from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Wienco, Technoserve and the Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) project.
The goal was to discuss ways of making sure that farmers got fair prices for their produce.
Ms. Moshi said one of the major challenges for the smallholder farmer “is getting fair prices for their produce”.
She made reference to the traditional practice where they sold their maize using the “bushweight” system, where heaped bags of maize weighing between 130 and 150 kilogrammes (kg) were sold for the value of 100 kg, “depriving the farmer of extra kilos per bag”.
She said the WFP in a bid to pay the farmers fair prices for their maize provided those in the Ejura-Sekyedumasi Municipality with weighing scales in year 2012, to make sure that each bag weighed exactly 50 kg – the required weight as per their contract with WFP and the result was remarkable.
The farmers were amazed to discover that they earned between 30-50 per cent more from their sales not because of increased prices but because the bags were properly weighed.
Ms. Moshi said the Ejura case study was outstanding and showed that it was possible to standardize weights and measures in Ghana.
Mr. John Nortey, Deputy National Director, Statistics, Research and Information Directorate of MOFA, spoke of the urgent need for the introduction of proper measuring standards to promote uniformity.
The participants were unanimous in their call for the appropriate state institutions to enforce laws on weights and measurements to ensure value for money, uniformity and fair trade.