Averting food crisis good for development

In his article published online in January 2021 titled ‘Looming Food Insecurity Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic: Time to Rethink Ghana’s Agriculture Model’,  Tontie K. Binado, the Programme Manager and Technical Lead on Resilient Livelihoods and Climate Justice, ActionAid Ghana, concludes that there is looming danger for food security in Ghana if immediate steps are not taken to salvage the situation.

He explained that there was abysmal yield in the 2020 crop season despite the high volumes of fertiliser and hybrid seeds provided to farmers at a high level of government subsidy under its flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme.

Then in July this year, one Nii Larte Lartey wrote that a farmer group, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, had predicted food crisis by 2022 over fertiliser shortage.

The farmer group reiterated its view that Ghana was likely to face food crisis if the challenges farmers faced with regard to scarcity of agricultural inputs persisted.

Besides, in August, the World Bank published an article that increasing number of countries were facing growing levels of acute food insecurity, reversing years of development gains.

The Bretton Wood Institution explained that even before COVID-19 reduced incomes and disrupted supply chains, chronic and acute hunger were on the rise due to various factors, including conflict, socio-economic conditions, natural hazards, climate change and pests.

It added that COVID-19 impacts had affected every country, with the impacts expected to continue through 2021 into 2022, and possibly beyond as the Delta variant continued its spread.

As if that is not enough, the World Food Programme (WFP) comes in to say that agriculture in Ghana is mostly rain-fed with less than one per cent of cultivated land being irrigated.

In spite of all these concerns expressed by the above, the Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, assuredly that “There is no threat of food shortage looming over the country.” This is most assuring.

The minister’s assertion implies that the government and its collaborators have taken the necessary measures to avert food crisis in the country.  

For instance, the minister says the ministry has distributed 971,898 cash crop seedlings, including cashew, coffee coconut, oil palm, mangoes and citrus, to 9,507 farmers in 338 communities in the Volta Region alone under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) initiative. 

The Agriculture Minister has also assured rice farmers in Kadjebi in the Oti region that they would be given a relief package for acquisition of agricultural machinery, where they would make an initial half payment of the total cost of  machinery,  including tractors and power tillers that cost between GH¢24,000 and GH¢31,000.

Food crisis impacts negatively on the health and productivity of people, thereby undermining personal and national development.

The Ghanaian Times, therefore, commends the government for its efforts but would urge that it pays attention to the concerns raised by other stakeholders to avert food crisis in the country.

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