Food Security Ghana - Issues to track in 2012 (Part I)

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 Source: Food Security Ghana

The year 2011 was without doubt an annus horribilis with regards to food

security globally. What are the issues that need to be addressed by

governments globally and specifically in Ghana in 2012 that will indicate a

positive trend towards ensuring food security for the people. Food Security

Ghana will endeavour to highlight those issues here.

Food Security

What happens in the area of food and agriculture in Ghana in 2012 should be

evaluated against the background of the what it is all about - food


Food Security Ghana (FSG) has stated what food security is all about but

many times in the past, but lets repeat it for clarity purpose:

According to Wikipedia two commonly used definitions of food security come

from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States

Department of Agriculture (USDA):


* Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social

and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their

dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.


* Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to

enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum

(1) the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and (2)

an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways

(that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging,

stealing, or other coping strategies). (USDA)

The definitions above can be summarised as follows:

* Available Food

* Affordable Food

* Safe Food

* Nutritional Food

* To meet the dietary needs and food preferences of the people

This implies that if the people of a country wants and needs a foodstuff

that they can¹t get due to inefficient local production, everything must be

put in place to facilitate the sourcing of that foodstuff without

impediments being placed on that sourcing process.

It will also be important to see if the government is able to distinguish

between food security and self-sufficiency, a real problem that has plagued

Ghana¹s food and agricultural policies since 2009.

In 2012 close attention should be given to the actions of stakeholders to

ensure that real food security is guaranteed in Ghana.

³Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics²

FSG has previously reported on the accuracy of information with regards to

food security in all aspects. It is generally accepted that no business

(including a government) can be effectively managed if its performance and

operations can¹t be measured.

In the past two years various reports and / or or statements from the

government raised serious concerns about the validity of food security

statistics in Ghana.

During the period 2010 to 2011 the country¹s reliance on rice imports was

estimated by various government officials to be anything from 90% to 60%.

This indicates only one thing, namely that the information available are

either unreliable, or that the government is basing forward planning on


Statistics on consumer price inflation figures have also been questioned by

various parties. While the Department of Statistics have been quoting

falling statistics, various reports in the media have indicated that the

price of basic foodstuffs have bee skyrocketing.

The government even acknowledged that there is indeed a problem when it

established a project to register farmers in Ghana with the hope of

gathering and collating reliable information. In addition it launched a new

website to disseminate information and statistics to the public at large.

Although the above developments are positive, it is essential to closely

watch and see if we can indeed get to the truth of food security reporting

in 2012.

Mindsets - Short, Medium and Long-term

FSG has been critical about government¹s policy statements and actions taken

since November 2009 when it reintroduced a 20% import tariff on certain

essential foodstuffs despite indications that the world and Ghana was

entering a new food crisis following the 2007 - 2008 crisis.

While food agencies globally agrees that one way of protecting developing

countries from food crises caused by high and volatile food prices is to

invest in agriculture to make developing countries less dependent on food

imports, all agree that this will take time. While such policies and actions

are put in place, it is essential for governments to do all in its power to

also assist and support its citizens on the short term.

The claimed and actual actions by the government towards a longer term

solution is laudable. However, the government has not showed any signs of

shorter term policies and assistance to Ghanaians while longer term policies

and plans evolve.

The year 2011 has been a tough year globally, including for Ghanaians. All

indications are that 2012 will be an even tougher year and with general

elections looming in Ghana, it will be important to see how the government

and opposition parties plan to address the shorter term food crisis to

alleviate the hardship of Ghanaians.

High Cost of Production

Reports on the high cost of farming production surfaces with regular

intervals. In November 2011 farmers in the North complained that, according

to them, the high interest rate on borrowing from banks, poor state of roads

and expensive agricultural inputs may affect the country¹s food production

and called on the government to intervene.

In the poultry industry the same cries have been heard for quite some years

- an inability to compete with cheaper imports due to high local cost of

production. To date the government¹s reaction has been to announce an

intention to ban the import of poultry produce to stop ³dumping² from 2013.

A standard technical definition of dumping is the act of charging a lower

price for a good in a foreign market than one charges for the same good in a

domestic market. This is often referred to as selling at less than "fair

value". Under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement, dumping is

condemned (but is not prohibited) if it causes or threatens to cause

material injury to a domestic industry in the importing country.

The real question that need to be answered in 2012 is if the importation of

poultry constitutes dumping or if the condition of the poultry industry is

similar to that of the rice industry, namely that the industry is unable to

supply local demand due to inefficiencies in the local industry.

Agriculture and Youth Employment

One of the priorities in Ghana is to create employment for the youth. Much

noise has been made about the government¹s Youth in Agriculture Programme

(YIAP). According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) the ³YIAP

is a Government of Ghana (GOG) agricultural sector initiative with an

objective of motivating the youth to accept and appreciate farming/food

production as a commercial venture, thereby taking up farming as a life time


In 2010 MOFA claimed to have created 47,000 jobs for the youth via its Block

Farm initiative. Within a few months after the first announcement this

figure shot up to 80,000. Independent visits by journalists to the block

farms, however, indicated that the workers on the Block Farms were in fact

existing farmers with no indication of the ³massive² youth employment as

claimed by the GOG.

It is essential that the true facts and figures are determined in 2012. If

farming is not creating new jobs for the youth, the big question is what has

been achieved in terms of creating new jobs since 2009.

Land Grabs

The issue of land grabs are coming into the limelight every now and again.

Various organisations including Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Oxfam.

According to Oxfam the increasing number of land deals are displacing

farmers and leaving poor communities homeless.

FSG has previously reported that foreign companies have grabbed 37 percent

of Ghana¹s cropland for questionable biofuel production. This article was

based on data provided in the FOE report.

Although the above figure of 37 percent has been questioned by the GOG, no

independent commission of enquiry into the true situation in Ghana has been

ordered by the government. To the contrary it looks as if further ³land

grabbing² is openly promoted under the banner of foreign investment.

It is essential that the truth about this situation is established in 2012

and that clear policy guidelines with regards to the acquisition of land by

foreign investors is formulated.

Efficiency of Foreign Aid Deployment

It was revealed that 50 percent of the MOFA budget for 2012 consists of

foreign aid. Much has been said about inefficient, ineffective and corrupt

application of foreign aid in developing countries.

It is estimated that Ghana received US$ 1.394 billion Official Development

Assistance in 2006. Although FSG is yet to investigate the actual

application of these funds, it is clear that there is little transparency

and ODA reporting available to the public.

If 50 percent of the MOFA budget indeed comes from foreign sources, it is

essential to see how these funds have in fact been employed. Inefficient and

ineffective employment of these funds will mean that the GOG is in fact not

spending the promised 10 percent of its budget on Agriculture.

Investment in Agriculture and Research

Everybody is in agreement that the two most important factors for ensuring a

food secure future are the levels of investment in agriculture, and the

levels in agricultural research.

In a recent article on Poverty Matters (guardian.co.uk

) the following the situation was spelled out as


Agriculture is also in desperate need of capital investment. Price caps on

food products stymie the incentives that propel farmers to plant crops,

invest in the long-term and innovate as small-scale entrepreneurs.

Investment in improved access to tools, inputs, agronomic information and

markets would help them increase productivity in a sustainable and

responsible manner. In short, a change of perception of smallholder farmers

is needed.

Even though AGRA reported that Ghana has achieved the agreed 10 percent of

national budget spend on agriculture by 2009, the question is whether this

budget spend is in fact in the right areas, and whether it is really

achieving the desired goals.

In terms of spending on agricultural research all indications are that the

2012 budget is not sufficient as indicated by the Minister¹s statement that

the finance ministry must look at modalities to ensure the availability for

agricultural research.

Questions relating to actual levels of spending, areas of spending and

effectiveness of spending on agriculture and research must be answered in


Promises, Promises, Promises

The year 2012 is election year in Ghana. It is the year when the incumbent

government is going to show Ghanaians how well it has performed with renewed

promises of unheard-of-prosperity if they are elected.

It is also the year when the opposition will convince Ghanaians that the

government has failed to deliver on its promises and that a change in

government will propel Ghana into ³wealth, health and happiness.²

FSG will monitor all 2012 claims and counterclaims in the area of food

security and endeavour to bring Ghanaians insight into the true situation.

As they say, there are three sides to a coin: The government¹s side, the

opposition¹s side and the truth.

In the next version of ³Issues to track in 2012² FSG will look deeper into

the issue of ³self-sufficiency² and the use of trade protectionism in the

rice and poultry industries in Ghana.

Food Security Ghana


Columnist: Food Security Ghana