Wed, 02 Mar 2011 Regional News

WFP to purchase 1,200 metric tons of rice from northern Ghana


March 01, 2011 Pong-Tamale (N/R), March 1, GNA - The World Food Programme (WFP) has placed an order for 1,200 metric tons of locally grown rice, worth $700,000 from farmers in Chansegu and other parts of the Northern Region.

A statement issued by the WFP after a community durbar at Pong-Tamale in the Savelugu-Nanton District, said although it was not the first that time that the programme would be purchasing food crops from Ghana for its operations, the move was symbolic.

It said the WFP ordered the produce from local small-holder farmers to support the National School Feeding Programme in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.

The statement said the programme was assisting to provide free meals to 800 beneficiary schools in the three regions.

The durbar was organised by the WFP in collaboration with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the Government of the United States in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two organisations in Washington in December last year to jointly strengthen global co-ordination to improve food security, economic growth and poverty alleviation in developing countries including Ghana.

In Ghana, the MoU is being implemented through the MCC/ Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) Ghana Compact Programme, which has been offering training services to provide improved access to credits, storage facilities, markets amongst other interventions to local small-holder farmers to enable them to produce crops to meet international quality standards.

Mr Ismail Omer, WFP Representative, who addressed the durbar, said in December last year, WFP purchased 1,000 metric tons of maize, worth $360,000, from small-holder Ghanaian farmers, most of whom had been trained by MiDA as part of the implementation of the MCC- MiDA Ghana Compact Programme.

He said the purchase, which was enough to feed 70,000 people for a month, was the first local procurement in Ghana under WFP's Purchase for Progress initiative, which worked with a wide range of partners that provided smallholder farmers with the technical expertise necessary to increase their yield.

He expressed the hope that the collaboration between the WFP and the MCC would lead to improved food security for small-holder farmers who fell among the poorest livelihood groups in the country.

Ms Gretchen Gidi Goodhart, Deputy Resident Country Director of MCC spoke about the MCC Ghana Compact Programme saying, "it is helping to strengthen Ghana's agricultural production through an integrated rural development programme, which trains farmers, provides credit, invests in post-harvest storage, and constructs roads to get goods to market.

She said the Compact was funding the construction of Agribusiness Centres in programme areas to serve as consolidation points to process and store crops in a modern, well-equipped, privately operated facility to reduce post-harvest losses and stimulate greater demand for grains produced by smallholder farmers.

Mr Matthew Armah, Chief Operating Officer of MiDA gave the assurance that MiDA would continue to work to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers to ensure the success of the MoU.

Mr Askia Mohammed, Savelugu-Nanton District Chief Executive commended WFP and MCC for their collaboration, saying it was helping to ensure food security and reduce poverty among communities especially in the three northern regions.

Mr Mohammed said government would continue to support the implementation of the MCC/MiDA Ghana Compact Programme.

Meanwhile, as part of the durbar, a team of officials of WFP, MCC, MiDA and government agencies undertook a field visit to WFP/National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) "Food for Work" afforestation site in the Pong-Tamale township to inspect a 300 hectare, involving the construction of 11,100 teak tree plantation.

As part of the Food for Work programme, 300 workers who were engaged to work on the plantation were presented with 486 bags of maize, 33 bags of beans, 67 gallons of vegetable oil and 17 bags of iodated salt.

The afforestation, also known as "Greening Initiative", forms part of initiatives by WFP and NADMO to support government's efforts in climate change adaptation and mitigation.