Mr Kofi Annan, the Former United Nations Secretary General, on Tuesday reiterated the need to promote agriculture and fight for better nutrition in Africa.
He said Africa must be ready to promote agriculture in order to feed itself with what is it produces, rather than produce what it doesn’t eat and eat what it doesn’t produce.
Mr Annan made the observation during a visit to the Volta Region to advocate efforts to boost the production and consumption of the Vitamin A-rich Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) in Ghana.
The visit which was organised by the International Potato Centre (CIP) was the third advocacy and education visit by Mr Annan and His wife since they learned of and became enthusiastic about the potential of the crop to help make a difference with regards to both health and wealth creation.
Mr Annan said nutrition is important in the growth and development of every child, saying when children are brought up and properly fed they grow up to be lively and healthy adults who are able to contribute to society.
He said nutrition could also increase prosperity and bring about increase in the gross domestic product of the society.
He said: “as Africans we must learn to be determined and much focused to be able promote agriculture in order to create an enabling environment for everyone”.
Mr Annan noted that most at times as Ghanaians, the focus is always on big companies to create jobs, but in most societies, majority of jobs are created by small and medium size companies and as such individuals must be encouraged to set up their own businesses to employ each other in order to make the country prosperous.
He encouraged the youth to get involved and develop interest in agriculture in order to make a living in the rural areas.
He said not all could move to cities because the cities are not always a happy place but they could make life worth living in the countryside.
He thanked the CIP for the efforts made so far to promote the consumption of the OFSP and gave the assurance that, together with his wife, they are ready and determined to work together to promote the industry.
Mr Roy Ayariga, of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), applauded the efforts of Mr Annan and his wife in ensuring the production and consumption of the OFSP in the region.
He said it would go a long way to help in the attainment of good health and the creation of wealth.
It would not only benefit farmers but create a number of opportunities for people to develop the community.
He said MOFA would continue to educate and promote the production and consumption of the OFSP for the benefit of the region and the nation as a whole.
Mr Emmanuel Darkey, the Chairman Sweet Potato Innovation Platform, said the OFSP is a rich source of dietry Vitamin A, a required nutrient that is often deficient, particularly in diets of children under the age of five and pregnant and lactating women.
He said deficiency of Vitamin A, which is one of the micro nutrients, is prevalent in Ghana with 70 per cent of children suffering to some extent from the problem, which along with deficiency from other micro nutrients, particularly iron and zinc can lead to serious health problems.
He said “just 100g of OFSW meets the daily Vitamin A needs of a young child”.
Mr Darkey called on MOFA to make the OFSP a national priority crop since growing it reduces poverty and increases the health of growers and consumers.
He appealed to donors to fund efforts to strengthen the production and processing of the crop.