Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, says the prudent agricultural policies pursued by the government have spared Ghana the scourge of food insecurity.
Speaking at the 32nd World Food Day which also marked 67th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at Gomoa Bewadze near Winneba in the Gomoa West District on Tuesday, Mr Ahwoi pointed out that 2012 Report on the state of food insecurity in the world estimated at about 870 million people representing 12.5 per cent of the world population under-nourished from 2010 to 2012 out of which 234 million were from sub-Saharan Africa.
He noted that the rapid growth in the agricultural sector held the key to reduction of hunger and malnourishment in developing countries including Ghana.
The Minister said the government has increased agricultural production since assuming office in 2009.
He said in 2007, agriculture contributed 5,322 million cedis representing 29.1 per cent of the 2007 GDP of 19,913 million cedis at 2006 prices, but in 2011 agricultural contribution increased by 22.2 per cent over 2007 figure to 6,507 million cedis or 25.6 per cent of the 2011 GDP of 27,742 million Ghana cedis at the same 2006 prices.
On the theme for the World Food Day: “Agriculture Cooperative: Key to Feeding the Word”, Mr Ahwoi said the most effective means of assisting small-scale farmers to address the issues of farmer livelihood and food security was the strategy of using farmers’ groups or farmer-based organisations (FBOs) to organise all aspects of agricultural value chain.
He said the government with the support of the United States government under the first phase of the Millennium Challenge Compact trained and supported 1,242 FBOs countrywide bringing the total to 66,400 farmers in technical and business development skills to enable increase their productivity and income.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director-General, Dr Jose Graziano da Silva, in a message read by Mr Musa Saihou Mbenga, FAO-Ghana Country Representative, paid special tribute to cooperatives for working against hunger and over-coming market and policy constraints by providing their members access to a range of assets and services.
The World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director, Mr Ismail Omer, encouraged all stakeholders in food security and the nutrition sector to redouble efforts to empower farmer-based organisations to accelerate food security for the small-holder farmer and for the entire country.
He said since 2008 WFP had brought close to 42,000 metric tons of food worth 22.2 million US dollars from food suppliers for use in WFP-Ghana programme as well as other WFP offices in West Africa.
Touching on the Ghana’s theme for the celebration of the day, “Restoring Coconut Farmers Livelihood through FBOs Collaboration,” the Central Regional Minister, Mrs Ama Benyiwa-Doe, commended the stakeholders on their effort to reactivate the coconut industry in the country.
She said coconut is not a great source of food only but also a great source of income and called for the protection of the crop against diseases.
Obrempong Nyanfun Krampah XI, Omanhen of Gomoa Ajumako, said farming was not for illiterate and school-dropouts and appealed to scholars to go into farming.
The Omanhen appealed to the government to provide irrigation and storage facilities to enable farmers to cultivate all-year round and store reserves.