The Peasant Famers’ Association of Ghana (PFAG) have called on government to take deliberate steps to ensure that post-harvest management is effectively integrated into all of its agricultural programmes, especially “Planting for Food and Jobs”.
Madam Victoria Adongo, the Programme Coordinator of the PFAG, who made the call in Accra on Thursday said: “Whilst the One District, One Factory and One village, One dam policies were laudable and are long-term solutions”, the current short-term challenges such as bad road infrastructure, inadequate machinery, extension services and adoption of simple Post-Harvest technologies needed to be addressed urgently.
Speaking at a day’s policy dialogue on Post-Harvest Loss (PHL) and Food and Nutrition Security in Ghana, she also called for the urgent need to increase budgetary allocation on post-harvest management, both at the national and local levels with a high commitment, transparency and accountability from implementing agencies to ensure a reduction in PHL.
Madam Adongo said malnutrition and post-harvest loss had contributed greatly to less productivity, food shortage, less income, poor diet, stunting, and even death, especially in low and middle-income countries with Ghana not being an exception.
“It is, therefore, timely and important to gather various stakeholders to discuss the challenges, gaps and constraints that are affecting the effective coordination of the various agencies and stakeholders in delivering their mandate on reducing PHL and ensuring sustainable nutrition and also generate ideas to achieve food and nutrition security, as envisaged in the agriculture related Sustainable Development Goals, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, and the Malabo Declaration, which heads of state signed to invest in accelerated agricultural development, eradicate hunger and ensure food and nutrition security,” she said.
On nutrition, the Programme Coordinator, noted that the nutritional profile of Ghana as presented by the USAID in 2014, gave a grim picture with nutrition challenges persisting, with the greatest burden in the three northern regions.
She said: “According to the report, as many as 1.2 million Ghanaians are considered food insecure and chronic under nutrition.
“There are both national and regional disparities in under nutrition, with high stunting rates in Upper East, Northern, Eastern and Central regions.”
Madam Adongo observed that high rates of anaemia in the Upper West and Upper East Regions, wasting in the Upper West Regions and high incidences of anaemia, which were at a rate of 57 per cent in 2011, were higher than the World Health Organisation’s cut off point of 40 per cent.
She, therefore, indicated that under the voice for change project, PFAG, called for the organisation and institutionalisation of a national nutrition policy fair that would help create an interactive and learning opportunity about nutrition, improve health and explore the food and nutrition resources available for adoption.
“We also recommended that more support be given to growing foods that are known to have nutritional values such as Sorghum, Millet, Cowpea, Bambara beans and many other indigenous foods and vegetables,” she said.
Mr Eric Banye, the Country Programme Coordinator, Netherland Development Organisation (SNV), said owing to the lack of storage facilities in the country, 68 per cent of food were lost through Post-Harvest and, therefore, called on stakeholders to push for consideration on policy interventions as well as monitor agriculture related programmes.
Mr Kwame Asarfo-Adjei, the Chairman for Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, urged members of the PFAG to add value to food production to help prevent food from going waste.
The SNV sponsored dialogue brought partners in the sector together to examine the current PHL and food nutrition challenges as well as recommend policies for addressing the problem.