Food is unavoidable. We eat every day but these days, the price of food is pushing the borders of inequality further.
A bucket of tomatoes which was GH¢30 last week can become GH¢45 today. A small can of pepper worth GH¢3 yesterday could cost GH¢5 today. There is no stability in the prices of onion, bell pepper, carrot, lettuce and so on.
Our wives are returning home from the market with frowns.
A three-square meal for families is becoming a headache for many parents as the cost of living in urban communities gets out of hand.
While the government watches in despair, its solutions have become counterproductive because of the rising cost of fuel every fortnight.
But there is a solution to keep us floating even in the face of the record food inflation which is biting deep into the pockets of Ghanaians.
It is simply, grow what you eat. While salaries are at a standstill because employers are also bearing the brunt of economic standstill, we can help ourselves with home gardens.
Home gardens can be described as a mixed cropping system that encompasses vegetables, fruits, plantation crops, spices, herbs, ornamental and medicinal plants, as well as livestock that can serve as a supplementary source of food and income.
A few years ago, my wife, a lover of greenery, and I were wondering how we could turn our highly concretised home into a garden of vegetables and blazing colours of our favourite flowers.
The eureka moment came while taking a stroll. I saw a number of tyres lying around in my neighbourhood and it hit me that I could easily put black soil in them and grow something.
The idea became an obsession and in no time, a truck delivered the soil which we loaded into packs of tyres numbering more than 100.
In a household in which yam is a delicacy, many yam heads were planted. Taros (cocoyam) were added, then vegetables, including tomatoes, garden eggs, pepper, herbs and various flowers.
On December 7, 2019, my family joined the rest of the country in celebrating Farmers’ Day by harvesting our first yam. I felt really excited. I’ve never looked back since.
That space would have been wasted but it is helping to cut down our budget on vegetables. It may not be as much as our consumption but it is filling an important gap.
The food you grow yourself is the freshest food you can eat. And because home gardens are filled with fruits and vegetables, they also produce some of the healthiest foods you can eat.
Not surprisingly, several studies have shown that gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers.
Gardens, in addition to being a source of fresh, healthy produce, ease stress and even improve the mood, research also suggests.
While food prices continue to rise, the fact remains that most people have shied away from backyard gardens.
One would have wished that the Planting for Food and Jobs policy, modelled on the highly successful “Operation Feed Yourself (OFY)” programme of the 1970s, would drive urban and backyard gardening, but that has not been the case.
The policy has been biased towards farmers who could have been encouraged to focus more on producing enough for processing.
Not too late
But it is not too late. Households don’t need much land to start a backyard garden.
People can grow vegetables in almost everything: damaged buckets, sacks among others. All they need is just anything that can contain soil.
We don’t need the government to provide free seeds. It should just be affordable.
So you see, we can bring some relief to homes and reduce the financial haemorrhage.
The good thing is that this also provides employment opportunities for our thousands of unemployed people who security experts say could become a national security threat if we don’t find a quick antidote.
It’s time to tame inflation in our own way.
And there is no easier way to do that than grow what we eat.
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