Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Agric Minister
Last Tuesday, Ghana joined the rest of the international community in observing World Food Day. It is a day on which we must reflect on the victims of malnutrition and hunger and work towards ensuring food security in our local setting. While we can claim not to have many hungry persons on the point of starvation in our country, we nonetheless have a sizeable number who cannot access three square balanced meals daily. Where there is food available countrywide, the nutritional value of this, in many instances, does not meet internationally acceptable standards.
There is no reason why some of our compatriots should suffer malnutrition and indeed hunger when the inputs for balanced diets are available.
In a country where there is no shortage of fertile and arable land, malnutrition and hunger can only be triggered by poor management of the country’s resources, poor commitment to enhancing food production at the policy level or even ignorance of what constitutes balanced meals.
Successive governments have come up with various programmes to prop food and cash crop production all of which have been unable to address the shortfalls and the accompanying hunger and malnutrition.
Nutritionists maintain that it is not enough to eat and have our fill when the food does not meet the standards required to ensure a sound body and mind.
The food we eat should be balanced as to ensure the optimum performance of our immune system. The time has come when we should be wary about the kind of food we eat.
The correlation between the quality of food we consume and the now prevalent health challenges, have been highlighted by medical practitioners and nutritionists.
It would be necessary, therefore, for our nutritionists to be engaged to teach us what to eat and in what quantities – knowledge most of us lack. We, for instance, do not appreciate the importance of fruits in our daily food intake turning to them only when they are in season.
As pointed out earlier, there is no excuse why we should not be able to feed ourselves in this country. With the appropriate policies and sincere commitment from the managers of food producing initiatives, we would be self-sufficient in this direction.
We recall the days of the State Farms and later ‘Operation Feed Yourself’ and what became of them in subsequent years. The latter whose cornerstone was food security in the country produced tangible results. Schools were able to produce enough grains to feed themselves; an evidence of success.
We can curtail the import bill on food and direct funds so saved to other areas of infrastructural development when we increase local production of the appropriate crops.
The President Akufo-Addo-led administration has not turned its back on the promotion of agriculture: its flagship programme of ‘One District One Dam’ and the ‘Farming For Food And Jobs’ now beginning to yield dividends as evidencedin, for instance, the non-import of maize this year.
The observance of the World Food Day should be a period of reflection over the previous failed food crop enhancement programmes. The knowledge from such reflections would put us in a better stead to achieve better results from the flagship programmes now operational.