Ghana has been hailed as a “beacon of hope” on the African continent due to its record of political stability and progress in development areas. In about 4 months from now the country will once again go to the polls to judge the governance of the current National Democratic Congress (NDC)-led regime, and the question is what this judgment by the people should be based on.
In recent times, election campaign speeches have been high on issues, ideas, policy alternatives on health, education, shelter, national security, energy, mass transit etc.
Efficiency within food systems and food security has been high on the global agenda since 2008 and the world, including Ghana, reeled under high and volatile food prices caused by the 2008 – 09 food crisis, a crisis that was followed by the 2011 – 12 food crisis. These crises drove millions more people into poverty and thus placing them at risk of malnutrition and starvation. The Government of Netherland in 2015 hosted world leaders, civil societies and businesses in the Hague for the “No More Food to waste” conference which addressed issues of food wastage, hunger and efficiency within global food systems. France this year pass into law a policy which admonishes supermarkets to donate their excess food products to charity homes.
The EU and US Government has started a global campaign that educates people on “best-before” date labels on food products. The FAO Save Food initiative has also been providing platform for organizations across the world to work on improving food systems. In Africa, the Food for All Africa program has been using innovative approaches towards educating the populace on the economic and environmental impact of food wastage and hunger.
Building West Africa’s first food bank in Ghana to recover over $150,000 worth of food products annually to provide 48,000 meals to feed and create sustainable means of nutrition for over 3,000 vulnerable children, aged and mentally challenged.
The 2016 elections forms a solid foundation for political parties to share with businesses, governments and non-government groups their national food policy framework to meet emerging challenges and opportunities for both food suppliers and each of us as food consumers.
Food wastage, hunger and inefficiency within Ghana’s food supply chain:
The global food market is rapidly changing and facing new challenges. At home, through utilizing innovation and efficiency we can benefit from a vibrant food industry. With the changing face of international food markets Ghana must position itself to manage the current challenges, future risks, but equally, to reap future gains.
Supermarkets in Ghana are wasting over GH¢ 2million weekly to food wastage at a time when 1 out of 4 children in most parts of Ghana goes to bed hungry. Available data shows over 40% of food goes waste along Ghana’s food supply chain from production to consumption. Farmers have willowed in poverty due to post harvest losses, the poor state of our roads to transport food across the country, poor transportation facilities, local market setup and lack of food processing facilities are some of the factors affecting the efficiency of our supply chain to achieve food security.
High tariffs on imported food products, high food prices, lack of tax incentives for food recovery initiatives are also some of the factors which has resulted in perfectly edible food going waste along the supply chain. Ghana as a country of 27 million people after 59 years of independence has no national food plan and Government must be committed to working with Ghanaians in developing a national food plan that is centred on efficiency within the supply chain, production and processing.
The development of the food plan must start with a community discussion about our food and the issues affecting it. In seeking feedback from stakeholders on what the plan should aim to achieve, Food for All Africa program through the 1st Food for All Ghana conference is preparing an Issues paper to inform the development of a national food plan in collaboration with all stakeholder’s most especially individuals and political parties seeking election into public office. Elections are about our rights and the “Right to food” must be at the forefront of engagement into the 2016 elections.
Food Security v Food Self-sufficiency v Efficiency:
Our nation’s food supply is not secure, and we need to collectively work together as stakeholders to create efficiency and remain vigilant in working to ensure food security in the years to come. At the same time we want to ensure our food industry can make the most of the rapidly developing market opportunities for food +industry goods and services, especially in Africa
For these reasons, Food for All Ghana program remains mindful of the need to maintain a long-term outlook for our food industry so it remains sustainable and resilient to climate variability and other significant pressures. The sector will need to continually adapt to such challenges and to ensure that, we must charge politicians who are standing to be elected into public offices to share their plans for improvement of Ghana’s food supply chain to ensure food security.
Food security does not mean that a country must be 100% self-sufficient in all forms of food . The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as follows, “Food security, at the individual, household, national, regional and global levels [is achieved] when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.
The key word is “access”, and since the beginning of mankind nations have filled gaps in the access to food through trade, meaning importing and or exporting food.Production and importation of food is important in achieving food security however addressing inefficiencies within the food supply chain in the surest way of ensuring food security and availability to all.
There are currently many government policies, programs and regulations to address food-related policy issues. There is, however, no overarching food policy framework. The development of a national food plan will address this need by better integrating food policy along the whole food supply chain—from paddock to plate.
Individuals, businesses, governments, non-government groups and communities all contribute to Ghana’s food sector. Developing a national food plan gives us an opportunity to talk about our
collective vision for Ghana’s food sector and to identify how we can ensure its success.
Regions, territory and local governments play an important role in the supply and consumption of food.
Food Recovery: A social intervention to inefficiency, food wastage and hunger:
A food processing company donates extra packaged products to a national network of food banks or to a community food bank. The Food and Drugs authority helps divert more than 21,000 tons of excess food from state landfills by assisting local food recovery programs through a food waste reduction grant program. Whether you call it feeding the hungry or food recovery, such efforts are all part of a growing national movement that must work daily to ensure good food goes to the dinner table instead of going to waste.
In the Ghana, we do not produce enough food and we waste an enormous amount of it. More than 40% of Ghana’s food, or about 8 billion dollars of food a year, goes to waste—in fields, commercial kitchens, manufacturing plants, markets, schools, and restaurants.
While not all of this excess food is edible, much of it is and could be going to those who need it. Food waste is not only unfortunate in terms of the lost opportunity to feed hungry Ghanaians but also in terms of the negative effects on our environment. The nation spends millions of dollars a year to dispose of excess food and waste. That is a waste of both food and money, however not all food is appropriate for human consumption. Livestock farmers use some excess as animal feed. Renderers and other businesses could recycle many forms of excess food into other products.
Food scraps can be composted to create a valuable fertilizer. A food waste reduction hierarchy—feeding people first, then animals, then recycling, then composting—serves to show how productive use can be made of much of the excess food that is currently contributing to leachate and methane formation in landfills. This helps any government or stakeholders, as well as any private business that deals with food to reduce its solid waste by facilitating the donation of wholesome surplus food according to the food hierarchy.
As we develop and implement the plan and other policy initiatives, we will continue working closely with stakeholders for the long-term benefit of our food industry and food consumers.
Food for All Africa program would like to charge all individuals and political parties to contribute to the issues paper by sending us their plans to improve the efficiency of our food supply chain to ensure food security, reduce food wastage, hunger and improve nutrition to the vulnerable in Ghana. Our Food Policy Working Group, which continues to advise generally on food-related issues and policies, will acknowledge receipt of your responses.
Finally, I want to repeat that we all must share feedback and work collectively to help create Ghana’s national food plan. I look forward to hearing your views.
*Founder/Executive Director, Food for All Africa Programme, Chef Elijah Amoo Addo, contributed this piece via: email@example.com.