This policy memo willaddress food insecurity issues, including food availability and foodaccessibility in the Republic of Ghana. Possible actions to take in order to beatthefood insecurity andthe relatedadverse effects in labor market and the national economy are provided and the effectiveness of these measures are assessed.
Current Situation in Ghana
According to a 2009 survey, 1,200 thousand people which equal to approximately 5% of thetotal Ghana population were considered to be food insecure. Regional differences in the prevalence of food insecurity is significant. Poorer areas are subject to more food insecurity. For example, the Upper West region ranked the highest of 34% population being food insecure, followed by the Upper East region (15%) and then the Northern region (10%). Regions such as Accra, Ghana’s capital city and the Western region has only less than 5% of prevalence. The aggravated lasting insecurity problem in Ghana is largely attributed to the 2008 world food crisis, in which huge hike in the basic staple prices makes households economically vulnerable.
Negative Consequences of Food Insecurity in Ghana
In general, lacking access to sufficient and nutritional food debilitates the society and the economy. Significant positive relationship has been explored between food insecurity and malnutrition reflected in children low birth weight and children stunting, etc. Cost of children malnutrition is associated with higher morbidity and mortality rate. According to the World Bank, undernutrition can be associated with anestimated loss of 10 percent of the children’s lifelong earning potential, causing chronic poverty. Increasing child mortality rates because of malnutrition have lower Ghana’s effective workforce by 7.3% out of the working age population. Therefore, it is necessary to relieve the problem in order to prevent future loss of human capital as well as decrease in the national productivity in Ghana.
Major adverse effects of the situation include increasing burden on the national healthcare and the education system. Treatment and medicines costs of malnutrition-related diseases become recurring, overburdening the health system and might slowly overdraft the Ghana medical resources. Children who perform not good at school, repeatedly take classes because of stunting, in another way, requires the nation to make more financial and human capital inputs in the education system.
Both individuals and institutions act as interest groups of the food security issue in Ghana. Interest, influence, and the possible level of participation of each party are carefully assessed here to facilitate the later discussion of alternatives.
StrongInterest and Strong Power
On the national level, the Ministry of Food& Agriculture (MoFA) is the major policy authority that implement policies towards objectives of improving food and agriculture production for food security. MoFA is the key stakeholder here as it has both the incentive and the authority to initiate policies in the food and agriculture sector. The objective of MoFA towards increasing food security is frequently implied in its initiatives, including the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy II (FASDEP II), Block Farming Programme (BEP), etc.
On a global level, the World Food Programme (WFP), the food-aid branch of the United Nation system, is Ghana’s powerful development partner to promote food security.To achieve its sustainable development goal (SDG) of “supporting countries to achieve zero hunger”, WFPhas sufficient incentive to share expertise and technologies and to provide financial support to Ghana. For example, WFP commissioned the John Kufuor Foundation in 2018, in an effort to assess Ghana’s current policymaking to facilitate its SDGs.
Government-sponsored research institutions largely supported or commissioned by the Ghana government, such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), have strong interests in addressing the issue by providing knowledge and efficient technology applied to the food and agriculture sector. Close relationship with the Ghana government confers these research institutions relatively strong power to voice in the food security and agriculture policymaking.
StrongInterest and WeakPower
The role of nongovernmental organizationsin combating food insecurity is important.Groundswell Internationalis an NGO that attempts to strengthens the Africa households through empowering small-scale farmers and promoting sustainable agriculture systems. It has a strong interest in eliminating food insecurity by helping to build up healthy local food systems. However, it might be identified asan individual unit functioning on the regional level and therefore having weak power and influence in policy making.
The local householdsin the poorest area of Ghanahave the strongest interest in food security. Forfamiliesfacing extreme poverty, food insecurity has put their health, children, future individual development all at risk. Nonetheless, they only have very weak and limited influence as poverty and poor living condition prevent them from achieving enough political influence. They might also lack the transportation and therefore cannot easily access policymakers and local government departments.
WeakInterest and StrongPower
The farmers and farmland owners are a significant stakeholder group that have strong influence on food security as sufficient land available for farming is required for sufficient food and agriculture production. However, we might witness a relatively low interest among farmers because of the evolving negative perceptions on farming and agriculture sector in recent days. Therefore, effective management of the national perception of agriculture is needed to facilitate the successfulcombat of food security in Ghana.
Policy Alternatives and Projected Outcomes
Theproposed alternatives are evaluated based onthree criteria of efficiency, cost, and equality and equity.Efficiencymeasures the ability of each to increase agriculture production and to reduce food insecure population in the long term. Cost, and equality and equity are discussed more generously for each measure.
# Alternative 1
To begin with, this alternative advocate the government to increase the portion of government funding to be higher than a 50 percent level and attain a more equally distributed funding structurein the food security projects and initiatives. In around 2017, there was only low amount of government funding for food security and nutrition advocacy activities.Most food security projects and programmes rely on donor funding with only arelatively small amount of government monetary contribution. Heavy reliance on some isolated donor can be unsustainable and risky.This certainlyexpectsa large increase in the government budget. However, with sustainable funding from the government, the food security promotion policies and programmes can be implemented more effectively in the long run with government’s increasing financialcommitment. Underthiscase, equity and fairness shall be reached when proper disclosure of government budget increase can be ensured.
# Alternative 2
Itis proposed that the Ministry of Food & Agriculture and the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ghana increase the capital investment in building basic agriculture infrastructure such as road and warehouses.Necessary extension services for agriculture activities is in a shortagetoo. Without sufficient infrastructure to support the agriculture, ranging from initial production to the post-harvest storage and delivery, produce can easily go waste. This situation is particularly notable in the northern Ghana, where food insecurity is the most prevalent and households lack necessary infrastructure like road and don’t have enough access to the market.
By providing these infrastructures including road, production as well as transaction costs of the produce can also be largely reduced. All of these would help strengthen households’ and farmers’ purchasing power and encourages farmers to increase agriculture production beyond their basic needs.Again, this proposal requires the government to significantly increase its expenditure, but definitely help beat the food insecurity problem in the long term with more sophisticated supportive system. Equalityand equity under this alternative canonly be ensured when the constructions are carefully planned to eliminate bias towards particular locations and certain areas.
Conclusion and Recommendation
After assessing the two options based on the criteria selected, the first alternative is recommended. Given that both measures require significant increase in the government budget and some level of intervention to guarantee fairness, the first alternativewell meets the expectation to motivate food production and defeat food insecurity in the long run. Stakeholders including the development partners and NGOs will support this alternative while related government departments might be reluctant to react in regard to the increasing shareof government expenditure in the programs.Nonetheless, it is necessary and imperative to increase the government participation in order for the initiatives to be better implemented across the nation.
In the meantime, it is necessary to reevaluate the current effort on food security initiatives developed by the Ghana MoFA, relevant development partners and NGOs, as well as research institutions. Overlapping efforts have been seen happening, reducing the overall efficiency and cost effectiveness of the national initiatives to combat food insecurity. It is certain that the reevalation will he
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