A LITTLE over a year into the establishment of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) that gave parents' pockets a little relief, the national agenda is yet to gain a sturdy standing, as it is running into grave problems in terms of the availability of sustainable funding.
The project has currently resorted to buying food products from local farmers on credit basis due to the delays in making budgeted funds available by government departments and other collaborative agencies, as a result of bureaucratic bottlenecks in the system.
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This revealing problem came to light during an interaction between the Executive Chairman of GSFP, Dr. Kwame Amoako Tuffuor, and journalists on August 29, 2006 in Accra.
According to the executive chairman, in view of budget constraints, the programme incurs huge sums of debt, noting that such limitations greatly affect the image of the project.
Explaining the issues with regard to how to sustain the programme, Dr. Tuffuor noted that the foodstuffs had to be purchased on credit basis until funds are provided by the required government agencies, adding that the strategy brings about expansion of the project.
He told journalists that his outfit has presently received only 1/25th of the total budget allocation of ¢160 billion a year for over 200,000 children, out of which the Dutch government would part with half the sum.
Expatiating on the progress of the programme, Dr. Tuffuor claimed the project had been overwhelmed with too many people whose presence were not planned for, since the number of children targeted had doubled over some few months.
The programme, the executive chairman stressed, started with ten schools for 200 children per school, which was achieved on target. Dr. Tuffuor noted that the project increased the number of schools to benefit from the programme to 1,000 and targeted 200 children per school; however the number of children in some schools has doubled over some few months.
Following the increased number of children turning up for school as a result of the School Feeding Programme, the executive chairman emphasized that over the year, the targeted schools may be reduced to 500/800 instead of 1,000 schools.
Dr. Tuffuor, who was recently made chairman of the Africa School Feeding Programme, noted that the project was not aligned to any political orientation as it is a project national in character and wholly accepted by all Ghanaians.
Warehousing has been another area that the executive chairman explained as being a force behind the programme. As indicated by him, the project has created one warehouse in each region that would enable surplus foodstuffs be stored for future against food security.
Dr. Tuffuor further stated that the programme was constrained with local farmers, who produce; the targeted schools depend on the school-feeding programme.
He has therefore encouraged the unemployed youth to embrace farming activities since it was very lucrative noting that the foodstuffs are not enough to feed the increasing number of school children in the schools.
He pointed out the headmaster of the targeted schools under the programme are the first point of contact for anybody to join the programme in a locality as food fed on the children depend on the produce grown in a particular locality.
Medium and large-scale farmer are also not left out of the programme, Dr. Tuffuor emphasized. He noted that these farmers could produce for the national food security programmes as a guard against hunger.
Micro processing machines, the executive chairman revealed, would be needed in preserving food products for use in the future.
In this regard, Dr. Tuffuor threw a challenge to the public to go into micro processing, since it provides jobs under the school-feeding programme.
Additionally, he encouraged chiefs in the localities to give out lands for school farms, whereby farming could be done in order to sustain the programme for national development.