Saving the people from hunger

Despite great researches into food science, evidence shows that there is an astronomical increase in the number of hungry people worldwide. According to the United Nations, the past years has seen global demand for food increasing steadily along with the world’s population, record harvests, improvements in incomes, and the diversification of diets.

Consequently, food prices continued to decline through 2000, but beginning in 2004, prices for most grains began to rise as food stocks depleted.

Food production in 2005 was negatively affected by extreme weather conditions in major food-producing countries leading to a fall in world cereal production by 2.1 percent; it was further exacerbated by the dramatic increase in oil prices which automatically increased fertilizer and other food production costs.

Having seen the handwriting on the wall, many governments took steps to insulate themselves from this alarming trend by either imposing export restrictions or resorting to purchasing grains at any price to maintain and stabilize domestic supplies and prices.

From independence, our governments have adopted very crafty, ingenious but very effective methods to ensure food prices remain within reach of every citizen. From Kwame Nkrumah, we had the Workers’ Brigade which included Farmers’ Brigade and other appendages which produced enough for domestic consumption. His overthrow ended that promising strategy.

The next government to tackle hunger in the land was the Supreme Military Council, SMC, led by Kutu Acheampong. No matter the tragic consequences leading to his overthrow, even his detractors will admit that when it comes to food production, that government stands tall as probably the first government to export grains to other African countries.

Successive governments have done their bit or perhaps doing their best to improve food availability in Ghana. Many agricultural programmes have either been introduced and tax breaks given to commercial farmers to increase food production.

We now have ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ which government believes is the panacea to joblessness while serving as the face of agro-processing under which factories set up under the One District, One Factory project will process the produce for consumption and storage, thereby ending the cyclical shortages that negatively affect food availability.

Bearing this in mind, government has re-doubled its efforts to ensure that Ghanaians are not included in the about 821 million people considered as undernourished in 2017. This statistics means one in nine people worldwide do not get enough food to eat, leading to malnutrition, which is a major health risk worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

According to the United Nations, the first Millennium Development Goal is targeted at cutting by half the proportion of the hungry by 2015, a policy government has adopted to ensure that citizens do not go to bed on empty stomachs.

Much as Goldstreet Business extols the efforts of our governments – both past and present, we want to suggest that more needs to be done for a dramatic rise in food production and preservation.

The fact that our leaders have not been able to inspire us to “dirty our hands” to increase production is a sign that we have failed as a nation. Farming is still being perceived as a job for the tired old men and women in the village, stuck to their old ways of tilling the lands with machete and hoe to feed the about 30 million Ghanaians. This is an indictment on all citizens, especially the youth who are not attracted to farming. Instead of growing what we eat, we now prefer importing basic food items that can easily be cultivated here.

Government’s lack of luster for agriculture has brought home the fact that action in the sector is what we need, not exhortations and homilies. It is that form of support that will bring serious citizens back to the land and stem the tide of emerging hunger.