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General News of Saturday, 3 September 2011

Source: GNA

1.2 billion Ghanaians are food insecure - MOFA Director

Tamale, Sept. 3, GNA - Over 1.2 million Ghanaians, representing five per cent of the population, are food insecure.

About 34 per cent of this population can be found in the Upper West with 15 per cent in the Upper East and 10 per cent in the Northern regions.

Mr Stephen Yakubu, Deputy Northern Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) disclosed this when he delivered a paper on “Food Security in Northern Ghana: challenges and prospects” at a workshop by the Northern Ghana Food Security Resilience Project (NGFSRP) in Tamale on Thursday.

The workshop was on the theme: “Building Farmer resilience to food insecurity through agro-inputs support, capacity building and market linkages”.

The 20-month Project, which commenced in January 2010, was aimed at reducing food insecurity for 10,000 resource poor and vulnerable small-scale rural farmer households (approximately 70,000 people) and to increase their coping strategist against soaring food prices.

Mr Yakubu said 1.5 million people living in the urban and rural areas of the remaining seven regions in the country were also vulnerable to food insecurity with the largest number of them in the Brong-Ahafo Region (11 per cent), Ashanti Region (10 per cent) and Volta Region (seven per cent).

Mr Samuel Asanti-Mensah, Agriculture and food Security Programmes Director of Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA)-Ghana, said the NGFSRP was implemented in Bole, Sawla/Tuna/Kalba, central Gonja and West Gonja districts of the Northern Region and the Wa Municipality, Wa east and Nadowli districts in the Upper West region.

He said in 2010, the Project supported 7,887 farmer households with fertilizer and tractor services to cultivate an acre of crop of their choice. Similarly, he said, this year the project had supported 6,988 farmer households, including 4,555 of farmers, who were supported last year and 2,113 new farmers, who could not cultivate their fields last year due to various reasons.

Mr Isaac Kankam-Boadu, EC/ADRA Project Manager, who spoke on the topic: “Projects activities, outcomes, impacts and lessons learnt”, said among other things the Project had increased farmers crop yields in the beneficiary districts by 300 to 400 per cent, strengthened farmer groups, increase adoption to new agriculture technology by farmers and reduced post harvest losses.

He said to ensure the sustainability of the Project after EC/ADRA had completed their work over 600 volunteers had been trained to continue to educate the farmers on best agricultural practices.

He said the farmers had also been linked up with financial institutions and markets to enable them to access credit facilities and ready markets for the sale of their produce.

Dr William Yaw Brown, Country Director of ADRA/Ghana, announced that by the close of the year a cashew processing factory would be established in the Brong-Ahafo Region to help farmers to process their produce.

He said about 12,022 cashew farmers in the Region had cultivated over 19,810 acres of cashew, adding that ADRA had also brought in new technology to help to improve upon the traditional silo system of food preservation and this had helped to reduce post harvest losses.

Mr San Nasamu Asabigi, Deputy Northern Regional Minister expressed concern over the inability of local partners to sustain projects that had been initiated by foreign development partners after they had pulled out and impressed on all the stakeholders involved in implementing the NGFSRP not to let the same fate befall the project.

He also appealed to development partners, particularly those engaged in the area of agriculture to educate farmers on the impact of climate change on their farming activities and help them to adopt measures and technologies that would not impact negatively on the crop yields.

The Deputy Minister commended ADRA for its intervention in helping to ensure food security in Northern Ghana and said it was in line with governments’ agricultural policies.

He said it was in line with this that government was implementing several agricultural interventions such as the Youth in Agriculture, under the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), the Block Farming Scheme, Fertilizer Subsidization as well as inviting investors into the agriculture sector.

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