Govt. pursing foreign investment for Buffer Stock operations – Minister

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Hanan Abdul-Wahab

The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has indicated government is considering foreign investment and intervention in a bid to turn-around the operations of the state food reserve outfit, the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO).

He explains the move will help expand the operations, increase storage and enhance food security measures.

Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto

“The company which belongs to the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has been trading for only two full years and the resources they will need to buy quality surpluses are beyond the reach of the government of Ghana, so we are looking for foreign investors to come in, either to take over that company or partner to strengthen the role they are supposed to play”, the Minister told Journalists at a Press Briefing in Accra on food security challenges.

Explaining the Buffer Stock concept to the audience, the Food and Agriculture Minister said the entity was created with a primary task to “take away from the market during the period of surplus and release same during the period of shortage” but the lack of adequate funding has rendered it incapable.

According to him, Buffer Stock has been under-performing over the years due to lack of funds.

He recalled that two years ago, government had to fall on the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to commit facility of GHC 20million to help shore up Buffer Stock’s capital and another GHC 50million was secured by same bank last year.

“We are in talks with two or three foreign companies who are interested to come partner us strengthen the proper role of Buffer Stock”.

He commended the innovative strategies employed by the leadership of Buffer Stock over the past three years which has contributed significantly to government’s social interventions such as the Free Senior High School and Planting for Food and Jobs programmes.

“ If Buffer Stock is to work properly, we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars of working capital government has not got that money….so the task of Buffer Stock has not even started”, Dr. Akoto reiterated.

The company is currently head by agricultural post-harvest expert, Hanan Abdul-Wahab who is credited with the recent success stories of the company over the last four years when he took over after his appointment by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo.

Established in 2010, NAFCO is mandated to manage government’s emergency food security reserve, mop up excess produce from farmers to prevent post-harvest loses, guarantee an assured income to farmers by offering minimum guaranteed price and ready market, and employ a buffer stock mechanism to ensure stability in demand and supply of locally grown food.