As governments in the sub-region continue to focus on regional integration as a key ingredient in the growth and economic development in the respective countries, it is becoming imperative that the phenomenon of bandits attacking crop and livestock dealers needs to be addressed as a matter of course.
This is because it is simply not enough, encouraging private sector actors, including those in the food security sector, to invest in that sector when bandits are beginning to infest highways along food-producing regions and communities, attacking traders at rampant rates.
As our governments would admit, attaining food security is not only an important aspect of our good governance systems but also necessary in stabilising society. Indeed, a government that defaults in ensuring that food prices are manageable is likely to face threats to its political survival and comfort.
Job, food security initiatives
That is why the government of Ghana’s job creation initiatives, including those related to food security, has been hailed by global development agencies and the diplomatic community.
But that is also why the New Crusading Guide story of Friday, 29 January 2021 should strike a chord within the corridors of policy-makers and state stakeholders in agriculture and regional integration.
While it is intriguing how traders should hold cash in their panties and braziers; of for that matter, in stockings and shorts, it is also worrying how we have brazenly come to allow ourselves to be terrorised by bandits, not only on highways into farm gates locally, but also at cross border level.
Reports about ordinary travelers – not even female traders in cargo trucks – have become routine, particularly on the road from Kintampo and Babator up north and Tamale-Bolgatanga.
Unfortunately, these harrowing stories are told and we feel sorry, but do nothing about, particularly this whole ‘Nigerian’ saga of bandits having space enough to hide in bushes and attack informal economy actors and even politicians on the campaign.
According to the New Crusading Guide, as the Ministry of Trade and Industry doggedly puts in place an enduring multi-sectoral initiative to regulate the tomato industry for the benefit of state and non-state stakeholders, bandits have begun putting spanners in their works, by attacking the predominantly female actors.
In a serial robbery spree, one driver had been shot, dying in the process as doctors and nurses attempted a rescue effort.
Intriguingly, the incident occurred in a tomato producing region.
Again, interestingly, it emerges that these women, including several other bands of traders in the foodstuffs value chain, see this phenomenon of being robbed and raped as an occupational hazard – all because they may not even be aware that it is the inability of policy-makers and politicians to fix the challenges, so that targets in agriculture, particularly food security, will be attained.
Ignoring such blatant abuses of the rights of citizens to work and move in peace is a luxury we cannot afford, especially in the light of Ghana’s emerging role as a food security success story in West Africa.
Now that Ghana commands the annual tomato market by taking seven out of the twelve months and splitting two with Burkina Faso, it is the opinion of the Thunder that we invest in road, personal, and cargo security, moving our regional integration and the Africa Free Trade Continental Area (AfFTCA) dream notches forward.
We, therefore, appeal to the security agencies, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) as well as the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to intervene, not only in ridding the highways into farm gates of bandits, but also sanitising and formalising the trade for the mutual benefit of state and non-state stakeholders.
That may involve fresh, modern packaging designs, banking, and insurance support in de-cashing the trade as well as road safety measures that may not delay cargo along highways.