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Food Ministry in Ghana plays hide-and-seek with statistics

On the 10th of April this year Food Security Ghana (FSG) released a statement that “MOFA Figures Confirm 18 Month Food Price Hike Shock”. This statement was based on figures taken from the website of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in the section “WEEKLY MARKET PRICES (WHOLESALE VALUES) OF FOOD COMMODITIES”.
In an attempt to update the food inflation figures from this very important and valuable source of information FSG discovered that MOFA has stopped publishing weekly market prices just after the FSG release. Prior to the FSG article the figures were published every week without fail by MOFA.
One can only speculate about the reason why MOFA suddenly decided to stop publishing data.
FSG then attempted to update readers on the latest “Agriculture in Ghana: Facts and Figures” and not surprisingly found that the latest figures published by MOFA dates back to 2010.
Normally statistics and information about the previous year becomes available between March and May of the following year, and should be ready for publication by latest June of the next year. We are in October of 2013 yet the figures for 2011 and 2012 have not been published yet.
It may be important for Ghanaians to revisit the promises made by the previous Chief of MOFA, Mr. Kwasi Ahwoi, when the new website was launched on 21 December 2011.
In a statement issued by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) Mr. Ahwoi made the following statements:
  • The website will “serve as a reference source for critical agricultural data and information in Ghana.”
  • “Students, researchers and the general public will find this website useful through the varying nature of information presented on the MoFA website.”
  • “Mr Kwesi Ahwoi said ... that he intended to make the site the number one Government of Ghana owned website .”
  • “Mr Ahwoi said … there was the need for such a website so that policy makers, traders, farmers, fishermen, businessmen and women and many professionals could rely on the site in planning and decision making.”
  • “He said the various directorates under the Ministry conducted surveys on market price trends in the various marketing centres while other areas concerning food production were also researched upon but all such reports were kept in the office and made available to the public on request basis, and there was the need to put such information on the website for all to access.”
At the time Mr. Ahwoi made the above statements or promises his Ministry was already one year behind in publishing statistics and it looks as if his successor, Hon. Clement Kofi Humado, is not interested in sharing Mr. Ahwoi’s vision?
Mr. Kwasi Ahwoi also stated that “the 500 most popular website in Ghana, according to the Alexa statistics showed only a few Ghanaians owned websites with that of the Ministry ranking the 70th.” It now seems that the MOFA website is in position 804 - quite a considerable slide in popularity.
In a FSG article of 27 February 2013 titled “There are lies, damned lies and then there are African statistics” it was mentioned that “Food Security Ghana (FSG) has on many occasions placed a huge question mark over the statistics on agriculture bandied about by the consecutive governments in Ghana about the “wellbeing” of agriculture.”
Must we therefore assume that the neglect to publish any more information on the performance of agriculture in Ghana by the Government of Ghana (GoG) and MOFA is the result of one or more of a few reasons:
  1. MOFA is acknowledging that the previously published information was indeed erroneous, and / or
  2. The analysis of and reporting on the MOFA information by outside parties MOFA has embarrassed the GoG and the publishing has been stopped by decree, and / or
  3. The people responsible to publish the information have decided it is not important anymore now that the driver of the initiative, Mr. Ahwoi, has left office.
Whatever the reason the GoG and MOFA will at some stage have to account to the owners of Ghana, Ghanaians, why they are withholding information from them.
Most important is that if the reason is because of a realisation that the statistics to date have been erroneous that the GoG as highest priority:
  1. Fix data collection to make sure it is correct and reliable, and
  2. Review previously devised policies and plans because they were based on wrong information and are therefore useless and a guide to waste of resources and of achieving the wrong objectives.
Ghanaians want to and have the right to prosper and improve their quality of life. They can’t do that while the government is playing hide-and-seek.

Source: Food Security Ghana

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