COVID-19: Food Is Sufficient - Agric Minister
The Ministry said there was enough food for everybody and so there was no need for individuals to engage in panic buying or to stockpile food.
Speaking at meet-the-press series organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture said the country through the Metropolitan, Municipal and Districts Assemblies (MMDAs), the Ghana Commodity Exchange and the development partners were helping Ghana in its remedial measures to carry out its immediate response to COVID-19.
The country also designed post-COVID-19 interventions and immediate actions, which included; market surveillance, where market prices and food availability on the market were closely being monitored; provision of PPE for extension agents; development of guidelines for production; public education through the media, and facilitation of input distributions among others.
The Minister mentioned other medium term actions including; facilitation of access to credit for producers, aggregators, processors and supporting the buffer stock company of the Ministry to mop up strategic stocks for food security.
There is also the re-establishment of early warning systems to provide regular update on food production and the establishment of COVID-19 support for agriculture and food security programme.
He said the country had started receiving support and cooperation from stakeholders to implement its plans to combat the pandemic.
Ghana's development partners had also indicated their readiness to support the country's pursuance to ensure food security, Dr Akoto said.
He announced that the Ministry had received support of Personal Protective Equipment and a cash donation of GHC10,000 from Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), mobilised from its country-staff, and the cash was to serve as seed money for the COVID-19 support for Agriculture and food security programme.
Dr Akoto said the success of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme was so overwhelming that Ghana had become a food basket within the past two years, leading to a substantial increase of exports to neighbouring countries.
He said currently, Ghana exported 19 different food items to other West African countries, including Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Cote d'Ivoire.
He however, admitted that, what the country needed was to focus on agro-processing and the capacity to process “our food to help prolong the life span of our produce and prevent post-harvest losses”.
In a related development, Mr Foster Boateng, Head of AGRA West Africa, who also spoke at the briefing, praised Ghana, for its continuous efforts in boosting agriculture production through its innovative programmes, saying the Government did well in committing 10 percent of its national budget towards agriculture production.
Ghana is also said to be the third country to be food sufficient in the Sub-region, AGRA noted, adding that within the past two years, the country had performed well on the AU Malabo Scorecard moving from 3.9 in 2017 to 6.6 in 2019, putting Ghana on track.
“What it means is that Government is committing more than 10 per cent of its expenditure to agriculture. We are achieving six per cent growth in agriculture, so this country is doing well, so management of AGRA has been so happy about what Ghana is doing”, Mr Boateng said.
He urged all Ghanaians to help in supporting Government's efforts at boosting agriculture production and food security, since the coronavirus pandemic drove significant imperatives including; health and agriculture, which needed to be strengthened.