Hard times for fufu lovers, Cassava in short supply (May 9, 2016)
At Agbogbloshie, part of the market dedicated to cassava had little to sell as traders sat behind empty sacks while others who had the produce lamented the bad sales.
Have you wondered why your ball of fufu is shrinking, while the price keeps soaring?
Cassava—one of the ingredients used in the preparation of the staple delicacy—is in short supply in the country, and the rippling effects are becoming enormous.
‘Chop’ bars, restaurants and consumers in general have been badly hit as they are unable to meet the increasing prices of the crop.
Many households have switch from eating their favourite fufu to rice because of cost.
Checks by the Daily Graphic revealed that unfavourable weather conditions have had a toll on production both in terms of quantity and quality.
Besides, there are reports that some breweries use cassava as raw material for the production of beer, thus reducing the quantity sent to the market for sale.
In some markets, prices of cassava have doubled or tripled over the last three months.
Experts say the switch from the dry season to the rainy season affects the quality of cassava as the crop is unable to withstand the early part of the rainy season.
Prices up in Accra
From the Agbogbloshie, Kaneshie and Mallam Atta markets in Accra, traders complained bitterly about the increase in the price of one of Ghana’s most popular staples, reports Seth J. Bokpe.
Cassava used to be one of the cheapest local produce but with the high prices, it is slowly shedding its image as a “poor man’s crop.”
A pile of cassava that three months ago sold for between GH¢2 and GH¢3 in the Agbogbloshie, Kaneshie and Mallam Atta markets now sells at GH¢5, while others that sold for GH¢5 and GH¢10 are now going for GH¢10 and GH¢20 respectively.
The traders told the Daily Graphic that a medium sack of cassava, popularly known as “Accra weight,” which used to sell for between GH¢50 and GH¢80 is now between GH¢120 and GH¢180.
The big sack, which in the past cost between GH¢150 and GH¢200 is now selling at GH¢ 280 and GH¢550.
Among the reasons assigned to the development is the prolonged heat and the late rains last year, the new appetite of breweries using cassava for beer and bushfires that swept through farms in the dry season.
“The cassava is very expensive these days. It is difficult to sell one sack a day. People are not buying because they claim the cassava spoils easily and is not fit for fufu. We are making a lot of losses,” Ms Patience Adoley Mingle said.
At the Kaneshie Market, the situation was different. There were a number of sellers but patronage was low because of the high cost.
The Secretary of the Cassava Sellers Association at Kaneshie, Ms Victoria Essuman, said apart from the late rains that followed a prolonged dry season, some breweries were also part of the problem.
“Some of the farmers now sell to breweries that use cassava as raw material. So farmers that supplied us are now selling to them. We need to do something about it,” she said.
Ms Essuman also attributed the situation to the bumper harvest in 2014 which led to a number of farmers failing to cultivate the crop in 2015.
“Unless something special is done to encourage more farmers to plant the crop, it will take quite a while for cassava prices to return to normal,” she said.
‘Chop’ bars and restaurants
Madam Abena Akyaa, a supervisor at Heavy Do Chop Bar at Kokomlemle, was brooding over the drop in business when the Daily Graphic visited the eatery.
She said a sack of cassava that she bought from the market last year at GH¢50 was now GH¢250.
“We now buy a lot, but could get very little from it. It is making the cost of business high,” she added.
That notwithstanding, demand for fufu was still high.
Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah reports that ‘chop’ bars in the Sunyani Municipality continue to operate albeit under difficult circumstances as a result of the non-availability of cassava.
‘Chop’ bars serve as preferred eatery places for people who are not able to cook fufu at home but the shortage of cassava has negatively affected their operations.
Fufu is prepared with the combination of cassava and either plantain or cassava and cocoyam with the cassava forming the greater proportion of the mixture.
However, all the three staples have become difficult to come by even in the Brong Ahafo Region where they are so cheap in normal cases.
The price of a normal bunch of plantain in the Sunyani Market is currently selling between GH¢40.00 and GH¢70.00.
A visit to the Obaa Yaa Chop Bar at the Sunyani Estates showed that even though they used to buy only GH¢400 of cassava every day for their business, this had jumped to GH¢1,200 every day.
Fufu that sold for GH¢1.00 has been increased to GH¢3.00
At the A & A Traditional Catering Services, the situation was not different. The caretaker, Mr Benjamin Bonney, said his customers understood the situation and were prepared to patronise his services no matter the cost.
Some families said they had resorted to eating banku, konkonte, ampesi and omotuo instead, since they ended up throwing away the cassava after buying them at exorbitant prices.
From Bolgatanga, Vincent Amenuveve reports that restaurants and chop bar operators in the municipality continue to serve their customers with fufu and assorted soup.
At the Bolgatanga new market, checks revealed that cassava and plantain were on display at the market.
Madam Priscilla Anafo, a buyer, opened a black rubber bag that contained six pieces of cassava worth GH¢5.
She noted that the demand for fufu in Bolgatanga was quite high and more so when a significant number of residents who had worked in areas such the Ashanti, Eastern and Brong Ahafo regions had now come back home with a high taste for fufu.
Tim Dzamboe writes from Ho that a visit to some chop bars in the municipality revealed that many of them had stopped preparing fufu with cassava.
Some of the reasons were that fufu prepared from cassava was not the desired quality for their customers.
Chop bar operators said the cassava was bad, which affected sales consequently, so they had resorted to using yam to prepare fufu.
The situation in Koforidua in the Eastern Region was not different as George Folley reports that the shortage of cassava is creating anxiety among fufu lovers in the New Juaben Municipality.
As a result, cassava farmers and traders are having a field day as they have taken advantage of the shortage to increase the price of the commodity.
Chop bar keepers have also reduced the sizes of fufu. A ball that used to sell for GH¢3.00 now goes for GH¢5.00
An operator of King Domino bar and restaurant in Koforidua, Mrs Josephine Arthur, attributed the unfortunate situation to lack of rainfall, which was making the cultivation of the commodity difficult for farmers.
At Nkurankan, near Koforidua, which is a huge cassava market, Madam Yaa Dufie said she had to trek to the hinterland to look for cassava.