Food security is a complex phenomenon, resulting in multiple causes of food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food stability.
About 5.0% of Ghana’s population is food insecure.
However, the Minister for Food and Agriculture in 2020 referred to Ghana as West Africa’s bread basket.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) indicated that one of the key determinants of food security depends on the availability of food and its constituents.
There could be availability of dietary energy but not diversified enough to provide the macro and micro nutrients essential for a healthy life.
Between 1990 and 2011, the level of energy supply obtained from cereals, roots and tubers slightly dropped in West Africa.
FAO’s Deputy Regional Director for Africa and Ghana, Jocelyn Brown Hall, confirms that food is available but is worried about access and nutritional components of food security in the Ghanaian space.
“In terms of food security, the President has addressed that there is food available and he’s correct. There is food available on the markets. Food security has three components; whether it is available and it is, whether people can access it and access it means whether people have the means to pay for it and third is, is it safe and nutritious.”
“Those two areas; the access where people are losing their livelihoods, are they able to pay for it or nutritious food. Those are the things we are working on and hoping that malnutrition has not increased because we do know that peoples’ livelihoods have decreased,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Food Research Institute, the body responsible for ensuring that food on the Ghanaian market is safe for consumption outlined some initiatives it undertook to guarantee access to food during the pandemic.
“What we have done is that, during these periods of challenges we sent out technology to support individuals who were ready to start their own processing businesses. So during the period, we assisted them to come out with the developed products that they are interested in,” Acting Director of Food Research Institute, Professor Charles Tortoe.
With the African Continental Free Trade Area in full swing, Jocelyn reveals that the FAO’s key support to Ghana’s participation is digitalization.
“With disruptive technologies that have happened because of covid-19, I see a lot of opportunities now. Agriculture production doesn’t have to be about ‘back breaking’ work. There’s a whole host of technologies, solar power, micro financing that we can draw the youth into.
Professor Tortoe also believes that if Ghana should consider visibility of produce, it will go a long way to fully benefit from the Continental Free Trade Area.
“The good news is that AfCTA is housed in Ghana which means Ghana must spearhead the activities of AfCFTA and that comes back to international trade. So, let’s start telling people about what we have, giving the visibility out there of the products and their uniqueness of nutritional support, nutritional security,” he said.