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05.12.2005 General News

USA spoon-feeds Ghana with 20,950 metric tons of wheat

By Public Agenda
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The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Pamela Bridgewater will witness the offloading of 20,950 metric tons of wheat valued at approximately $5. 8 million at the Tema Harbor on December 5, 2005. The wheat is part of the United States Government's PL-480 Title II Food Aid Program to enhance food security in Ghana.

Honorable Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, and Ms. Sharon Cromer, Mission Director of USAID/Ghana, will accompany Ambassador Bridgewater. Also in attendance will be the Country Directors of the non-governmental organizations (NGO)responsible for using funds generated from the sale of the wheat to implement development activities: Mr. Vewonyi Adjavon of Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Mr. Samuel Asante Mensah of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Ms. Carla Denizard of Opportunities Industrialization Centers International (OICI).

Annually, the United States Government, through USAID's PL-480 Title II Food for Peace Program, imports approximately 50,000 metric tons of food commodities into Ghana worth approximately $24 million. The commodities provided under the program include wheat, wheat soy blend, bulgur wheat, soy fortified sorghum grits, and vegetable oil.

In a competitive bidding process, the wheat has been sold to Takoradi Flour Mills Ltd., Irani Brothers Ltd. and Ghana Agro-Food Company Ltd. The flour mills pay for the wheat in local currency, rather than foreign currency, which allow Ghana to save its foreign currency for other international purchases. The proceeds from the sale will be used to generate funds to implement development projects, particularly in the northern regions of the country, where food insecurity is a concern. These projects improve household nutrition, especially health for children and mothers, provide clean water to rural communities, and train small-scale farmers to increase agricultural productivity.

Notable Successes:

Ø In the Northern Region, ADRA and OICI-assisted farmers increased their yields of maize from a baseline of 290 kg to 980 kg per acre over a five-year period. This resulted in an increase in income from 760,000 cedis to 2.6 million cedis per acre over a five-year period.

Ø In 2005, ADRA and OICI-assisted farmers constructed a total of 1,214 local household facilities for storing agricultural produce. These storage facilities coupled with training in post harvest management reduced post harvest losses from 30 percent to less than 5 percent.

Ø The CRS Girls' Education Promotion Project, which provides take-home food rations as an incentive for enrollment and attendance, reported an increase of 43 percent in enrolment and attendance in 2004.

Other development activities include agro-forestry, primary health care, and support to vulnerable groups, including physically and mentally challenged, elderly, orphans and people living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients. An active micro-enterprise program helps women's associations to increase access to credit and in turn resulted in an increase of household incomes. Wells and boreholes constructed have increased access to portable water to reduce the incidents of water-borne diseases. About 80,000 people have benefited from these water sources.

As a result of the PL 480 Title II Food for Peace Program, subsistence farmers are earning sufficient income to send their children to school, build better homes and adopt better health practices.