Tomato floods markets; price drops

The price of tomatoes has dropped significantly in markets across Accra due to the seasonal glut of vegetables.

At the CMB tomato market where traders usually discharge their goods, a large wooden box of tomatoes, which used to sell at GHS1000, is now selling at GHS800.

A large basket, which sold for GHS400, is now between GHS200 and GHS250.

In the same market, one medium size plastic basket of tomatoes, which used to sell for GHS150, is now trading at GHS100.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, a spokesperson for the Greater Accra Tomato Traders Association, Madam Theresa Lartey, who has been in the business for over 40 years, said the drop in price is normal every tomato season.

‘Tomatoes come in seasons, for instance, during Christmas and Easter, the vegetable is out of season so, prices are higher, but the month of August is when the tomato is in season, that is why as you can see, the market is flooded.

‘Right now, sales are low, people quote whatever price they want to give you so, sometimes you sell it at the same price as you bought it from the farmers, and you don’t make any profit because if you don’t accept the price they give you, they will rot.’

‘All the tomatoes you see here around this time is from the Ada areas, every tomato you see here is from Ghana, it is not from Burkina Faso…,’ she added, saying: ‘The only time traders go to buy from Burkina Faso is during the lean seasons when tomatoes from Ada and Kumasi are in short supply.’

‘Burkina Faso is able to produce tomatoes all year round because they have big dams, and we go there especially around the Easter seasons to boost availability, prices are high around that time because we have to exchange cedis for the CFA …,’ Madam Lartey said.

She called on the government to assist farmers to produce all year round to ensure price stability.

Tomatoes are said to be low in calories and provide important nutrients like vitamin C and potassium.

They are also rich in antioxidants and are said to be linked to several benefits, including reduced risk of heart diseases and certain cancers.

Experts say tomatoes are key components in the diet of Ghanaian households and approximately 440,000 tons of tomatoes are consumed annually, equivalent to 40 per cent of household vegetable expenditure.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Education Ministry seeks to flip humanity courses in favour of sciences

The Ministry of Education is seeking to flip the science-humanities ratio in the education system which currently stands at 60:40 in favour of humanities.

The move is part of efforts to encourage the study of science and technology to help make Ghana competitive in the fourth industrial revolution.

It is for this reason that the Ministry, through the Ghana Education Service (GES), is vigorously implementing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education at the basic and second-cycle levels.

Dr Eric Nkansah, Director-General of GES who announced this, said the objective was to flip the current situation in favour of the sciences by 2030 in order not to be left behind as a country in the industrial revolution.

He was speaking at the fourth graduation of the Jackson Institute of Technology (JIT) in Kumasi on the theme ‘Embracing Industry 4.0: Shaping the Future of Ghana with Technology.’

A total of 108 students received certificates in courses such as Introduction to information technology and key window application, web development, and data analytics as well as working smart with Microsoft Office and the Internet.

The Director-General said STEM education was not negotiable if the country was to remain relevant in the fast-paced technological advancement.

He said the fact that the Minister for Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum was leading the campaign for STEM education himself, demonstrated the commitment of the government towards scaling up the study of science, technology and engineering.

‘The challenge, however, is that at the senior high school level only about 12.5 per cent of the students there are pursuing science,’ he said.

Dr Nkansah underlined the need for stakeholders to join forces to change the status quo at the senior high level, which was the pipeline to the tertiary, adding that the government was taking short and long-term measures to address the anomaly.

‘The government is expanding and resourcing the science laboratories in existing senior high schools to increase their capacity to admit more science students.

We are also building new science resource centres in schools that never had one,’ the Director-General stated.

Mr Daniel Jackson, Managing Director of JIT, said technology had become an ‘integral part of our daily lives, shaping the very existence of humans in profound ways.’

He said the 21st century had ushered in unprecedented changes and that it was important to be well-equipped to navigate this era of innovation.

Mr Jackson said JIT had come to provide learners with the requisite IT skills needed to be competitive and relevant in the digital space.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Narcotics Commission supports 2023 BECE candidates with mathematical sets

The Eastern Regional Command of the Narcotics Control Commission (NACOC) has provided mathematical sets to candidates writing this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in four separate schools in the Eastern Regional Capital, Koforidua.

The mathematical sets were distributed to candidates who are members of the Drug Awareness Clubs, which were recently established by the narcotics commission as part of its broader strategy to combat the threat of drug abuse among young people in the Eastern Region.

Ms Irene Okyere, Eastern Regional NACOC Officer-In-Charge of Drug Awareness Clubs, said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency that the gesture was a partnership with a benevolent philanthropist to motivate members of the drug awareness clubs and boost their performance.

Presently, she said, the Commission has successfully established 15 clubs in 15 junior and senior high schools, with each club boasting a membership of at least 40 students.

She expressed confidence that with an overall membership of approximately 1000 just in the first few months of their formation, they would be able to have a positive influence on their peers.

‘The Drug Awareness Club aims to ensure that the youth are well informed about the harmful effects of substance abuse,’ Ms Okyere said.

She further said: ‘The Commission, in partnership with the District Assemblies and the Ghana Education Service, is currently organising an educational tour to encourage more students to join the Drug Awareness Club.’

According to research by the commission, a sizable portion of young people abuse drugs because of unfavourable peer pressure and curiosity. These young people also frequently seek advice from their friends when dealing with personal issues.

Ms Okyere said the NACOC decided to establish drug awareness clubs in schools and developed an instruction manual for managing the clubs.

She indicated that the manual covers many topics, such as goal setting, leadership, self-management skills, career guidance, and effective communication skills.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Seychellois boxer Keddy Agnes wins silver at 2023 African Elite Men and Women Boxing Championship

Seychellois boxer Keddy Agnes won a silver medal at the 2023 African Elite Men and Women Boxing Championship held in Yaounde, Cameroon, from July 25 to August 6.

Agnes was awarded second place after he was forced to abandon the contest in the elite final of the +92kg category on Saturday due to an injury. He surrendered after the first round versus his opponent Cameroonian Zacharie Mvogo Amougou, who won the gold medal.

The Seychellois heavyweight boxer won a cash prize of $15,000 with his silver medal. To reach the final, Agnes won 4-3 on points against Sadiki Maroy from Ivory Coast in the quarter-final. In his semi-final against Kenyan Fredrick Ramogo, he won by referee stopped contest (RSC) to proceed to the final.

Agnes is no stranger to winning medals on the African continent. In 2022, he won gold at the Africa Zone 4 championships and secured silver at the Acropolis Cup, before losing in the quarter-finals of the Commonwealth Games.

Four other boxers from Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, also competed in the event.

Dasheil Fanchette lost his one and only bout to Mpi Anauel Ngamissengue of Congo, after the referee stopped the fight with a minute left in the first round of the 75-80kg weight class.

In the 67-71kg category, Jovani Bouzin lost 5-0 to Mauritian Merven Clair in his first fight, while Shain Boniface, in the 63.5kg-67kg, lost to Cameroon’s Junior Jean on a score of 4-3.

Fabio Roselie was also in action at the championship, where he lost after the referee stopped the contest, with 48 seconds left in the second round. Roselie, who was in the 57-60kg category, lost to Democratic Republic of Congo’s Mweba Kitangila.

With the one silver medal, Seychelles has actually ended the tournament in 15th place in the medals table. Morocco took the top spot with 8 gold medals and a total of 13 medals.

In second place was the Democratic Republic of Congo with 5 gold medals and 15 medals, with Algeria in third place with four gold medals.

The Seychelles team is using the tournament as one of the preparations for the Indian Ocean Island Games that will start in Madagascar on August 23 until September 3.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ year-on-year inflation goes down to -1.3% as of June 2023

As of June 2023, the annual year-on-year inflation rate of Seychelles has gone down to -1.3 percent, compared to 2.05 percent in the same month of 2022.

The figure, which was published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) as part of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recently, shows that the core inflation index fell by -0.44 percent over the same period from June 2022 to June 2023.

“The CPI measures the change in the price of goods and services that households pay for the purpose of consumption,” senior statistician at the NBS, Kirsten Arnephy told SNA.

Arnephy said that to track the change in price over time, a basket of goods and services is used and classified into three main groups – fish, other food and non-food items.

“Each category has a specific weight, which is derived from the results of the Household Budget Survey (HBS) and it is determined by how much people are spending towards each commodity or service to the total expenditure incurred by households on commodities,” added Arnephy.

Non-food items make up the biggest weight in the basket at 85 percent, with other food at 14 percent and fish at 1 percent.

The non-food category includes items such as housing, water and electricity, transportation, communications, alcoholic beverages and household equipment. As of June 2023, the inflation rate for this category was 1.5 percent compared to 6 percent in 2022.

The biggest drop in inflation came from transportation costs, which dropped from 11.1 percent in June 2022 to 0.6 percent last year.

“Since the non-food group makes up the most weight in the basket when the price of commodities in that group increases or decreases, it will have an impact on inflation accordingly,” explained Arnephy.

In the other food group, the inflation rate in June 2022 was 6.1 percent, while in June 2023 that stood at 1.1 percent. Here the biggest drop in price was seen in milk, cheese and eggs, from 7.9 percent in 2022 to 0.1 percent in June 2023.

Arnephy also added that the NBS has undergone a re-basing exercise in 2021, where they had to revise the basket to make it more representative of the realities of today.

“We have seen different items added to the basket, such as more hybrid cars, package holidays, as well as non-dairy items like almond and soy milk,” she added.

The drop in inflation or deflation as it is called, is positive for the country, although it is still way off the lowest rate of -5.54 percent, recorded in March 2010.

Seychelles highest inflation rate was recorded in December 2008 at 63.25 percent at the height of the global financial crisis. This was a month after the island nation embarked on a macroeconomic reform programme with the help of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to primarily address the serious balance of payments and external debt difficulties.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

NIGER: Coup supporters defy ECOWAS threat, pack 30,000-capacity football stadium

Thousands of Nigeriens thronged to a football stadium in the capital Niamey on Sunday, chanting patriotic slogans, in clear defiance of threats by the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) which is also backed by Niger’s former colonizer, France.

ECOWAS military chiefs had issued a statement threatening to invade Niger on Sunday, August 6th if the country’s coup leaders failed to reinstate the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum whom France has described as the “only authority we recognize” in Niger.

Coup leaders however closed Niger’s airspace, stating that any military intervention by ECOWAS or the French would be considered an act of war. Algeria which borders Niger to the north also refused to allow its territory to be used for any military intervention – helping give Niger much-needed security.

At press time, ECOWAS which had been threatening to invade Niger with troops, had not made any further statement as the deadline which the bloc’s military chiefs gave, elapsed on Sunday night.

The silence of ECOWAS also signals the regional bloc’s confusion and uncertainty as to what to do in the face of a coup that has wide support within the ranks of ordinary Nigeriens. Niger is a land-locked country and any military intervention will certainly need the permission of its neighbors, most of whom instead support the coup. Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Chad which in the last few years have had coups of their own have either outright supported the coup (as in the case of the first three countries) or have taken a more diplomatic stance, calling for dialogue as in the case of Chad.

The ECOWAS threats ring hollow as the bloc is unsure what steps to take regarding Niger as multiple nations are pulling their troops out of the embattled country. In the wake of the coup, US and Italian forces evacuated their troops over the weekend and landed in Rome on Sunday – the same day ECOWAS gave as a deadline for their threatened military invasion of Niger. The evacuation sends a subtle message that these nations do not want to get caught up in yet another civil war in Africa, making the coup leaders bask in their own power and garnering the support of the masses.

While Niger until recently was a crucial ally of the West in helping them fight terrorism in the Sahel, the country’s new leaders seem to be choosing new allies – choosing to turn to the Russians, much to the chagrin of the West.

Sunday’s crowds who packed the football stadium beyond capacity, remaining unfazed by threats from ECOWAS are a clear proof of France’s weakening grip on the country and a clear sign that the regional bloc is nothing more than a toothless bulldog. However, it remains to be seen what the 15-member state organization will say or do this week, but observers shouldn’t expect anything else but more hollow speeches and threats.

Source: Cameroon News Agency