Government must support food-value chain – Stakeholders

Global food systems transformation goals have called for food that is healthy to humans

Stakeholders in the Ghanaian food system have proffered solutions to dealing with the myriad of challenges militating against the country’s agricultural sector, with dire implications for food security.

This was part of the United Nations (UN) global goal of ensuring a resilient global food system.

The food system entails agricultural production, food transport and trade, food retail and provision, and food transformation. The Dialogue is in preparation for the UN Food System Summit slated for September 2021.

The UN Food Systems Summit is part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Forming the participants were stakeholders from government, academia, the media, the private sector, and development partners.

Participants called on the government to develop mechanisms to monitor and facilitate regional and district officers to perform their role in the food system towards ensuring a resilient food system in Ghana.

The participants called on the government to create and sustain an enabling environment through favourable policies and strategies, providing incentives for the development of private sector actors.

Efforts should be made to promote Public-Private Partnerships and increase budgetary allocations to support the food value chain.

The gaps identified in Ghana’s food system were the lack of database, inability to give early warning, fragmentation of the food systems, lack of buffer stocks and irrigation systems, inability to absorb shocks, lack of food security hotspots, and lack of digitisation.

Addressing the gaps, the participants identified that in the short term, there must be an enabling environment, identify systematic barriers, consider innovative financing models, an improvement on storage systems, capacity for conveying food to market.

In the long term, participants called for a revamping of the country’s irrigation systems to adapt to climate change, improving organic farming, improving road network, introduce policies to address food security issues and building systemic capacity, systems for quality control, using technology to connect the level of the food system.

Prof Anna Lartey, a Professor of Nutrition at the University of Ghana said there was the need for policy action to be taken across the entire food system.

There was the need for action in the food supply chain (production, storage, distribution, retail, and marketing) and the food environment, which entails food availability, food affordability, food properties, vendor properties, and food messaging.

Prof. Lartey noted that if the country’s food system was bad, there was no way the country would be able to achieve the SDGs, adding that this country’s farmers are among the poorest income earners, which is an indication of a poor food system.

She said the global food systems transformation goals have called for food that is healthy to humans; resilient to shocks like pandemics and economic climate change; inclusive and equitable through the ensuring equities of smallholder farmers, women and providing decent livelihoods.

She added that there was the need for food sustainability, ensuring that while producing food, the planet remained healthy and protective of natural resources and biodiversity. The global food systems transformation goals aim at ensuring efficiency along the food value chain.

A Food Safety Expert/Certification officer at the Ghana Standards Authority, Emmanuel Adjetey suggested there was the need to integrate and implement ISO 22301, a business continuity management system into all public agencies within the food system in Ghana.

A Representative from the CSIR-Research Institute of Ghana, Dr Beatrice Darko Obiri said if the country desired to be resilient with her food system, the entire value chain plagued with gaps, needed to be addressed holistically by reducing waste and increasing efficiency at each stage of the food supply chain.

“I also think the forest-based food systems were often neglected although they continue to play a critical role in times of stresses, adding that the need for inter-sectoral planning to design integrated strategies is key in policy actions,” she said.

The Dialogue convened by the National Development Planning Commission and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture provided a platform for stakeholders in the food system value chain to table relevant suggestions to revamping the system.

Source: GNA

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