The Peasant Farmers’ Association of Ghana (PFAG) has held a day’s policy dialogue on Post-Harvest Loss and Food & Nutrition Security in Accra.
The meeting which brought together key stakeholders in the Agriculture and Nutrition sector in the country was meant to examine the current both post -harvest loss and food and nutrition and proffer cogent recommendations that will help improve the nutritional status and health of the Ghanaian population and as well as prevent Post-Harvest Loss (PHL).
Speaking at the dialogue session, Madam Victoria Adongo, the Programme Coordinator of the PFAG, noted that, malnutrition and post-harvest loss had contributed greatly to less productivity, food shortage, less income, poor diet, stunting, and even death, especially in low and middle-income countries with Ghana not being an exception.
She was of the view that, “the policy dialogue session is therefore, timely and important to gather various stakeholders to discuss the challenges, gaps and constraints that are affecting the effective coordination of the various agencies and stakeholders in delivering their mandate on reducing PHL and ensuring sustainable nutrition and also generate ideas to achieve food and nutrition security, as envisaged in the agriculture related Sustainable Development Goals, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, and the Malabo Declaration, which heads of state signed to invest in accelerated agricultural development, eradicate hunger and ensure food and nutrition security.”
Read full statement below:
WELCOME STATEMENT BY VICTORIA ADONGO, PROGRAMME COORDINATOR, THE PEASANT FARMERS ASSOCIATION OF GHANA (PFAG) ON A NATIONAL POLICY DIALOGUE ON POST-HARVEST LOSS AND FOOD AND NUTRTION SECURITY
HELD AT CSIR-STEPRI ON 16TH AUGUST, 2017
Hon. Member of Parliament, representatives from the Netherlands Embassy, the various Ministries, researchers, representatives from the National Development Planning Commission, Development partners, fellow farmers, CSOs, the media, ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to be given the opportunity to welcome you to this event to discuss two critical areas around food insecurity that has witnessed global uncertainties and has become the focus of global attention. Malnutrition and post-harvest loss has contributed greatly to less productivity, food shortage, less income, poor diet, stunting and even death especially in low and middle-income countries with Ghana, not an exception. It is therefore timely and important to gather various stakeholders to discuss the challenges, gaps and constraints that are affecting the effective coordination of various agencies and stakeholders in delivering their mandate on reducing postharvest losses and ensuring sustainable nutrition and also generate ideas to achieve food and nutrition security as envisaged in the agriculture related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Malabo Declaration where Heads of State signed to invest in accelerated agricultural development, eradicate hunger and ensure food and nutrition security.
Hon. Member, many countries have become increasingly concerned about their national food situation over the past years with Ghana experiencing a surge in food prices in recent years coupled with price volatility and risk of food shortages. A world Bank report of 2011 estimates that the value of PHL losses in Sub Saharan Africa could potentially reach nearly US$4 billion a year out of an estimated annual value of grain production of US$27 billion. In Ghana, it is estimated that the nation loses about GH 700,000 annually on post-harvest loss and that more than half of the food crops does not make it to the final consumer. This means that significant volumes of food, especially grains are lost after harvest thereby aggravating hunger, and resulting in expensive inputs (which is being subsidized by government) being wasted. PHL also leads to loss in market opportunity and nutritional value; posing serious health hazards especially if linked to consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated grains. Causes of PHL range from the technical such as harvesting methods, handling procedures, drying techniques and moisture levels, lack of good storage facilities; ﬁlth or contamination; pests attacks to governance related causes which include poor sales, procurement, storage, marketing and distributing policies, absence of mechanisms such as warehouse receipts systems, mismanagement just to name a few Overall, food losses contribute to high food prices and have an impact on the environment and climate change as land, water, and non-renewable resources such as fertilizer and energy are used to produce, process, handle, and transport food that no one consumes. Unfortunately, these losses are mostly felt by small holder farmers.
PHL reduction complements efforts to enhance food security through improved farm-level productivity to benefit producers especially the rural poor. It is estimated that even a 1% reduction in PHL can result in an annual gain of UDS 40million dollars. This will generate income, improve grain quality and safety and contribute to food and nutritional security. More importantly, the livelihoods and economy of small holder farmers will improve substantially through improved productivity and sales to both domestic and international markets.
The options to reduce PHL are available and varied, but the adoption rate in Africa and particularly Ghana remains miserably low. From training in improved handling to better storage facilities, interventions exist that would enable small holder farmers to improve the quality and quantity of grains during post-harvest handling and storage. Unfortunately, success has been rare as commitment from both national and local government has been particularly low in terms of budgetary allocations for such infrastructure, capacity and technology. It is on this note, that through the Voice for Change Program, (V4CP), PFAG with the other CSOs are calling for improved implementation of available post-harvest technologies, increased budgetary allocation and improved PHL service delivery. Specifically, we call on government to take deliberate steps to ensure that Post-harvest management is effectively integrated into all its agricultural programs; the “Planting for food and jobs” program. Whiles the one district, one warehouse as well as, one district one factory are laudable and long-term solutions, current short-term challenges such as bad road infrastructure, inadequate machinery, extension services, and adoption of simple post-harvest technologies need be urgently addressed. There is the urgent need for an increase in budgetary allocation on Post-harvest management both at the national and local levels with a high commitment, transparency and accountability from implementing agencies to ensure a reduction in PHL.
When we come to nutrition, the National Nutrition Policy (NNP) provides the framework among other things, to create an enabling environment for the effective co-ordination, integration, and implementation of nutrition programmes in Ghana. This implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the NNP is to be co-ordinated at the national, regional, and district levels, however, the effect of this devolution of roles is yet to be felt. The nutritional profile of Ghana as presented by the USAID in 2014 gives a grim picture with nutrition challenges persisting, with the greatest burden in the three northern regions (Upper East, Upper West, and Northern Region). According to the report, as many as 1.2 million Ghanaians are considered food insecure and chronic undernutrition. There are both national and regional disparities in undernutrition, with high stunting rates in Upper East, Northern, Eastern, and Central regions, high rates of anaemia in the Upper West and Upper East regions, wasting in the Upper West regions and high incidences of anaemia which was at a rate of 57% in 2011, higher than the WHO cut off of 40%.
We are however aware of complementary programmes such as the National Vitamin A supplement programme, the Food fortification programme etc. all aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle through good nutrition. However, the slow progress in childhood undernutrition and setbacks in the prevalence of anaemia suggests the need for renewed commitments to improve the nutritional status and health of the population. In view of this, it is proper that there is effective coordinating mechanisms and structures in place to ensure effective implementation of various nutrition related programs to ensure optimal and sustainable nutrition. Under the Voice for Change project, PFAG, calls for the organization and institutionalization of a National Nutrition Policy Fair to create an interactive and learning opportunity to learn more about nutrition, improve overall health and explore the food and nutrition resources available for adoption. We also recommend that more support be given to growing foods that are known to have nutritional values; sorghum, millet, cowpea, Bambara beans and many other indigenous foods and vegetables.
We are hopeful that if these recommendations and the anticipated inputs from other stakeholders gathered here are considered and implemented by government, then we will have embarked on a journey to improve the lives, income and livelihood of the rural population.
The main purpose of today’s workshop is to examine the current both post -harvest loss and food and nutrition as we hear from the various institutions responsible for implementing these programmes. Participants will also make recommendations for policy consideration.
In conclusion, we are grateful to SNV and the Netherlands embassy for their financial and technical support in empowering CSOs in influencing the agenda of various government agencies to ensure food and nutrition security. To the Chairman of the Parliamentary select committee on Food and Cocoa affairs, we would urge you to use your position to push for consideration of this policy interventions and also monitor agriculture related programs by government. To the various partners gathered here, we thank you for making time to partake in this important dialogue; we know we can count on your meaningful insights and perspectives in shaping policy recommendations that will significantly reduce post-harvest losses and improve food and nutrition security.
Thank you very much and we look forward to fruitful deliberations.