Three food and nutrition experts have called for greater collaboration between farmers, industry and academia to ensure nutritious, safe and affordable food for Ghanaians.
They made the call at the Nestlé-University of Ghana summit on the theme: “Valorising industry–Academia partnerships for sustainable and affordable nutrition,” held in Accra.
That had become necessary because “feeding without nourishing” was making many productive workforces malnourished and ineffective, due to lack of energy for the brain and body to work to its maximum level.
“Deepen partnership to nourish the population, and not just feed them,” Professor Matilda Steiner-Asiedu, Nutrition Consultant, advocated when she spoke on the topic: “Addressing the challenges to affordable nutrition– contributions from academia.”
Prof Nyarkoh, who is with the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Ghana, bemoaned that in many developing countries, including Ghana, about 85 per cent of the population are unable to afford a healthy diet.
That is attributed to the expensive cost of high-nutrient-rich foods, particularly, vegetables and fruits, a situation that is also affecting academic performance of many students.
Prof Nyarkoh said, for example, about 65 per cent of nutrients was often lost in fish foods before reaching consumers due to poor distribution systems and handling, while what went to the market was expensive.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency after the summit, she said: “We’re just feeding people to get full. So, someone will just eat gari-water (gari soakings) – full of carbohydrate, and this person is food and nutritional insecure. But if you’re nourishing the person, there should be at least some groundnut.”
“When you ask any Ghanaian, what did you eat? The person will tell you rice, fufu, banku, and sometimes, the fufu is just with soup, no meat no fish, its same with banku–banku with shito, or banku with okro soup, which you can even count the number of okro,” she stated.
“That’s feeding, but if you’re nourishing, we should see all the compliments of the nutrients – proteins, carbohydrate, fat and micronutrients, which we get from our fruits and vegetables.” Prof Nyarkoh explained.
The Nutrition Consultant noted that poor roads pushed drivers and traders to increase prices, and by the time the food got to the market it had become highly priced and obviously not affordable.
“We need to look at our production and post-harvest system and consider all the value-chain so that we don’t waste and lose the food,” the Nutrition Consultant commended.
Prof Ankomah Asante, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development, University of Ghana, reiterated the need for academia and industry to work together.
Such synergy, he said would help advance knowledge sharing and effective utilisation of resources in food systems to ensure the availability of affordable and nutritious food for all.
Prof Stefan Palzer, Head, Innovation, Technology, Research and Development, Nestlé, noted that climate change, global geopolitical tensions, and food security concerns required improved collaborations.
“We must ensure that nutritious food is made affordable for people using technology and modern factories to produce, and safely package them,” said, Prof Palzer.