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As 200 million people are undernourished, NEPAD warns of bigger consequences if Africa does not invest in food security

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Statistics on food security and nutritional status show that over 200 million Africans are said to be undernourished and suffering from vitamin and mineral deficiencies according to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), an economic development programme of the African Union (AU).

In Ghana over 1.2 million people, representing 5% of the population, are food insecure.

According to a Ghana News Agency publication, the deputy Northern Regional Director of the MOFA, Mr Stephen Yakubu, disclosed in a paper on “Food Security in Northern Ghana: challenges and prospects” at a workshop organised by the Northern Ghana Food Security Resilience Project (NGFSRP) in Tamale Thursday September 1, 2011 that over 1.2 million Ghanaians, representing 5% of the population, are food insecure and that about 34% of this population can be found in the Upper West region with 15% in the Upper East region and 10% in the Northern region.

The publication further cited Mr Yakubu as adding 1.5 million people living in the urban and rural areas of the remaining seven regions in the country were also vulnerable to food insecurity with the largest number of them in the Brong-Ahafo Region (11%), Ashanti Region (10%) and Volta Region (7%).

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently painted a gloomy picture about the prospects of Ghana’s crops production in the coming years citing erratic seasonal rains, dry conditions and flooding experienced in recent times as contributing factors.

NEPAD believes that the consequences can further worsen if  African governments do not increase investments in food and nutrition security.

“If Africa does not invest in food and nutrition security, the consequences will be big…” said Ms Boitshepo Bibi Giyose, Senior Advisor for Food and Nutrition Security at the NEPAD Agency during a special consultation meeting of the Steering Group of the Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day convened by the AU and NEPAD as part of plans leading up to the commemoration of the Day on October 30, 2011.

The commemoration which will be at two levels, continent-wide and at the level of member states, will focus on four main flagship areas; dietary diversity, homegrown school feeding, maternal and child nutrition and food fortification.

Ms Bibi Giyose further explained “Given the challenges of poor research and policy translation into action and tangible results coupled by weak capacity in many member states and the evidently low investments in nutrition programmes, this can only lead to malnutrition.”

There is hope that the fight against malnutrition can be won as Ms Giyose suggested that the earliest opportunity is to apply some of the more relevant indigenous knowledge systems around the best nutrition, as has been done for generations adding that the time is ripe for scaling up proven interventions.

“There clearly are models to be learnt from and emulated. This will take a concerted effort across all Government sectors, Private sector, Civil Society Organisations, Development partners, Institutions of Higher Learning and the average African to commit and contribute towards delivering and attaining the best nutrition for all,” she adds.

She indicates that the opportunity for intra-African trade of agriculture food commodities that are of high value and nutritionally sound is immense and “therefore, recognising the richness of Africa’s traditional and indigenous nutritious food commodities, educating the public on the best utilisation, sharing success stories on progress in reducing hunger and malnutrition in Africa is imperative.”

By Ekow Quandzie

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