The government has not substituted egg supply to schools with Chinese-sourced mackerel, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Food Buffer Stock Company Limited (NAFCO), Mr Hanan Abdul-Wahab, has said.
He has, therefore, urged the public to disregard an allegation making the rounds that a company had been contracted by the government to supply the mackerel and that had resulted in the decline in supply and consumption of eggs in many Senior High Schools (SHSs) by 70 per cent.
At a press conference in Accra last Monday to set the record straight, the NAFCO CEO urged the public to disregard the allegation because eggs had not been substituted with mackerels.
"Instead, they (mackerels) have been part of the national-approved menu for students since September 2017 when the Free SHS programme began," he said.
The CEO indicated that the government decided that mackerel be supplied by NAFCO, together with 17 other food items which were considered ‘non-perishable’ foods such as cocoa powder and vegetable oil.
He further explained that the schools were mandated to be in charge of the purchase of other items considered as ‘perishables’, which included eggs and fresh fish.
“NAFCO, therefore, has no role in the purchase of eggs because the schools deal directly with poultry farmers and egg suppliers.
“There has not been any policy that compels SHSs not to buy eggs. Schools can buy eggs if they so wish in addition to the mackerel supplied by NAFCO,” he added.
Mr Abdul-Wahab said the government, as a deliberate policy, decided to use the Free SHS programme to support local farmers and the poultry industry and, therefore, mandated that foods produced in Ghana be sourced locally while all other food items which were not locally produced be imported by NAFCO-licensed suppliers at competitive prices and supplied to schools without compromising on quality.
“It is not the case that mackerel was introduced in the national-approved menu in January 2021. It has been part since September 2017," he said.
Cash and carry
Mr Abdul-Wahab mentioned that unlike suppliers of the non-perishable items who had to wait for a period of 30 to 60 days before receiving payments, suppliers of eggs preferred a cash-and-carry payment method which, he believed had contributed to the decrease in demand for eggs by the schools.
He said the schools were given a 30 per cent allocation to purchase the perishable items.
"So if a supplier wants a cash-and-carry transaction and the schools have not received their allocation yet, they will not be in a position to buy outright," he explained.
Contrary to claims that Lamens Ventures had been contracted to import and supply the mackerels to schools, Mr Abdul-Wahab explained that Lamens Ventures had been one of NAFCO's many licensed suppliers since the inception of the Free SHS programme in September 2017 and not just one emerging as being claimed by Mr Asare in the Facebook post.