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02.09.2005 General News

Netherlands selects Ghana for Hunger Task Force


Tamale, Sept.2, GNA - The Netherlands has selected Ghana as a pilot country for the implementation of a Hunger Task Force to fight malnutrition in Africa.

Mr Arie van der Wiel, Netherlands Ambassador in Ghana who announced this in Tamale, said it was in line with the Government's programme to fight malnutrition in the country.

Mr van der Wiel was launching Farmers' Agricultural Production and Marketing Project (FAMAR) an Association of Church Development Projects (ACDEP).

The Project was aimed to reduce rural poverty in Northern Ghana through effective marketing of farmers' produce.

Inauguration of the Savanna Farmers Marketing Company, a farmers company to promote the welfare of farmers and assist them to access credit formed part of the launching ceremony.

Mr van der Wiel said the programme initiated by the Netherlands Government was envisaged to reduce hunger by about 50 per cent in both developed and developing countries by 2015, the situation in Ghana indicated that malnutrition existed.

Referring to the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, Mr van der Wiel said the proportion of children under five years with stunted growth increased from 26 per cent to 30 per cent in 2003, with 11 per cent of them severely stunted.

He said one of the action plans developed by the Hunger Task Force together with NEPAD were school feeding programs based on local production which would afford one adequate meal for school children and also give farmers the chance to produce more and have good prices for their produce.

The Netherlands Ambassador was optimistic that the programme would become a model for Public Private Partnership (PPP), for organizations such as ACDEP could play key role in mobilizing the new food demand for primary schools.

Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister for Private Sector Development and PSI in a speech read on his behalf said his Ministry would support institutions such as the Ghana Standards Board, Food and Drugs Board and Plant Protection and Regulatory Service of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to improve their capacity for the certification of agricultural products for export.

He said the Ministry had established a Business Development Services Division to facilitate identification of vulnerable groups and arrange for their training in both the informal sector and formal sectors.

Mr Malex Alebikiya, Executive Secretary of ACDEP said it had invested about seven billion cedis in its activities. He said more than 70 per cent of development in Northern Ghana had been funded by the Netherlands Government through its agencies and NGOs.

Mr Alebikiya said despite the efforts to contribute to increased agricultural productivity in Northern Ghana, lack of market and low prices for agricultural produce was a factor militating against the full realization of this goal.