Ghana marks World Food Day
The Government of Ghana, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), food security sector partners, and Ghanaian farmers have joined the rest of the world to mark this year’s World Food Day.
The day, which falls on October 16 every year, is used to create awareness about issues affecting the food and agricultural sector worldwide.
In Ghana, this year’s national celebration was held at Bewadzi in the Gomoa West District of the Central Region, with a global theme ‘Agricultural Cooperatives: key to feeding the world’. It highlighted the many, concrete ways in which agricultural cooperatives and producer organizations help to provide food security, generate employment and reduce poverty.
The FAO Director-General Dr. José Graziano da Silva in his message for the observance of this year’s event, paid special tribute to cooperatives for working against hunger and overcoming market and policy constraints by providing their members access to a range of assets and services.
Mr. Musa Saihou Mbenga, FAO-Ghana Country Representative, said: the structure of the Ghanaian agricultural system is changing rapidly. Independent producers need to vertically coordinate their production through the agricultural system to maximize returns. Cooperatives comprise an important and growing part of this changing agricultural industry.
Due to the singularity of member owned-member managed, cooperatives have the ability to solve various market problems facing the agricultural producers.
In a separate message, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) used that day by reaffirming its dedication to work with communities, civil society, governments and the private sector to end hunger in their lifetimes.
Over the last year, communities on almost every continent have felt the devastating impacts of high food prices, natural disasters, climate emergencies and conflict, which have exacerbated hunger and poverty. Fortunately, working with partners across the globe WFP’s food assistance has brought hope and relief to millions.
“WFP faces many challenges as we work to ensure that the hungry poor receive the right food at the right time,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.
“From the Sahel region stricken by the third drought in recent years, to unrest in the Middle East, to communities whose imported staple foods have become inaccessibly expensive, WFP delivers life-saving food assistance where it is needed most.”
In 2011, WFP reached almost 100 million people in 75 countries, including over 11 million children who received special nutritional support and 23 million children who received school meals or take-home rations.
“Here in Ghana, WFP supports the national school feeding programme, special nutritional programmes for vulnerable women and children, refugees, food for asset programmes which rebuild vital community infrastructure, and nutrition-linked income generating activities,” said WFP Representative/Country Director, Ismail Omer. “Another key area of support is to smallholder farmers.”
In particular, WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) pilot project has worked with more than 800 farmers’ organizations, comprised of more than one million smallholder farmers, in 20 countries to build capacity and maximize developmental impact of food procurement.
“Under WFP’s P4P initiative in Ghana, some 1,500 smallholder farmers in 26 rice, cowpea and maize farmer organizations in Tolon Kumbungu, Tamale and Ejura Districts, have been trained and provided with basic equipment. We have also bought their produce for use in our food assistance programmes,” Mr. Omer said. “Empowering farmer organizations enables them increase food production which benefits them as individuals and the country as a whole. Negotiating with one voice, they are better able to obtain fair prices for their produce, earn more money and consequently reduce their vulnerability to food insecurity, malnutrition, poverty and
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