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Food crisis looming… WB warns amidst Ghana’s rising food inflation

Adnan Adams Mohammed

Ghanaians are already feeling the heat of food insecurity as World Bank Group warns of imminent food shortage.

World Bank has indicated that, the world faces a “human catastrophe” from a food crisis arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Bank is worried at the rate in which food prices are rising, saying it would push hundreds of millions of people into poverty and lower nutrition, if the crisis continues.

The World Bank calculates there could be a “huge” 37% jump in food prices (inflation). Already, Ghanaians are witnessing a record high inflation spurred by leapfrogging food inflation. According to the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) reported that, March 2022 inflation hit the highest in nearly 13 years to record 19.4%.

“The higher inflation was pushed largely by food prices”, the Government Statistician announced fortnight ago.

According to the figures, food inflation recorded a rate of 22.4% in March 2022, compared to 17.4% in February 2022. Stapple (commonly consumed)0 foodstuffs such as: Oil and Fats (28.2%), Water (27.1%), Cereal Products (25.0%), Vegetables (23.8%), Fish and Other Seafood (23.7%), Fruits and Nuts (22.1%), Soft Drinks (20.5%), Live Animals, and Meat (20.2%) recorded inflation rate, higher than the national average.

Consequently, the Brtton Wood institution  has shared that, the trend would hit the poor hardest, who will “eat less and have less money for anything else such as schooling”.

In an interview with BBC economics editor Faisal Islam, World Bank president, David Malpass, who leads the institution charged with global alleviation of poverty, said the impact on the poor made it “an unfair kind of crisis… that was true also of COVID”.

“It’s a human catastrophe, meaning nutrition goes down. But then it also becomes a political challenge for governments who can’t do anything about it, they didn’t cause it and they see the prices going up,” he said on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank meetings in Washington.

The price rises are broad and deep, he said: “It’s affecting food of all different kinds oils, grains, and then it gets into other crops, corn crops, because they go up when wheat goes up”.

There was enough food in the world to feed everybody, he said, and global stockpiles are large by historical standards, but there will have to be a sharing or sales process to get the food to where it is needed.

Mr Malpass also discouraged countries from subsidising production or capping prices.

Instead, he said, the focus needed to be on increasing supplies across the world of fertilisers and food, alongside targeted assistance for the very poorest people.

The World Bank chief also warned of a knock on “crisis within a crisis” arising from the inability of developing countries to service their large pandemic debts, amid rising food and energy prices.

“This is a very real prospect. It’s happening for some countries, we don’t know how far it’ll go. As many as 60% of the poorest countries right now are either in debt distress or at high risk of being in debt distress,” he said.

“We have to be worried about a debt crisis, the best thing to do is to start early to act early on finding ways to reduce the debt burden for countries that are on have unsustainable debt, the longer you put it off, the worse it is,” he added.

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