As part of efforts to strengthen capacities of smallholder farmers in post-harvest management, food safety and quality, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is sponsoring the 8th Annual Pre-Harvest Conference and Exhibition in Tamale. The event, which will link actors in the food value chain is scheduled to take place from Wednesday, October 3 – Friday, October 5, 2018, at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium.
The WFP Representative and Country Director, Ms Rukia Yacoub said her outfit is interested in supporting peasant farmers who produce majority of the food in Ghana but remain among the most food-insecure livelihood groups.
She added WFP has profiled these farmers to determine their capacity and identify those immediately capable of meeting the requirements of food processors and other institutional buyers.
“Ultimately, we hope that the food systems in Ghana will operate optimally, whilst the factories will be able to produce special nutritious foods for the West Africa sub-region and other markets,” Yacoub said.
This, she added, will translate into increased markets and income for smallholder farmers, offering opportunities for them to break out of the cycle of poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition.
WFP focuses its support to national governments on Sustainable Development Goals 2 – Zero Hunger and 17 – Partnerships.
Yacoub said the national Zero Hunger Strategic Review which was launched by President Akufo-Addo, in May 2018, identifies the triple burden of malnutrition, reduction of post-harvest losses, improvement of linkages between smallholder farmers and markets, enhancement of food safety in value chains, and mapping of food-insecure populations, as key gaps which need to be addressed to enable Ghana to achieve zero hunger by 2030.
“These gaps which are also reflected in the Government’s policies, such as the Planting for Food and Jobs and One District One Factory initiatives, will be WFP’s focus areas from now until the end of our new Country Strategic Plan in 2023,” She noted.
Citing Canada’s invaluable partnership and funding, Yacoub said, “WFP has phased out of its traditional programmes in Ghana, into a new chapter of innovative integrated food security and nutrition programming, with the private sector at the centre.”
Two Ghanaian-owned industrial agro-processors in Kumasi and Sunyani have been funded and provided with technical expertise to enable them produce specialized fortified nutritious foods of international standards which help prevent malnutrition, particularly stunting among children. Ten thousand smallholder farmers in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions, have been identified for linking to these agro-processors as a market for their produce.
The country Director is hopeful that the 8th Pre-harvest Agribusiness Event will indeed highlight agro-economic opportunities for farmers, agribusiness, input dealers, investors and financial institutions, sister UN agencies, civil society, government and non-governmental institutions, policy-makers, municipal and district chief executives, and others.
She called for more participation in discussions on Sustainable Agricultural Warehousing and Storage, Post-harvest Management, and Food Safety & Quality standards, which WFP will lead during the 3-day conference.