STAKEHOLDERS FORUM REPORT

                                                                “National Alliance Capacity Building in Ghana”

                                                                   (4TH MILESTONE)

REPORT ON A STAKEHOLDERS’ FORUM ON FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION IN GHANA

BRITISH COUNCIL, ACCRA.

26TH JANUARY, 2016

ACRONYMS

DAs                   District Assemblies

DCE                   District Chief Executive

DP                    Development Partner

ECOWAS          Economic Community of West African States

FAO                 Food and Agriculture Organization

FBO                 Farmer Based Organization

GOG                Government of Ghana

GPCAHM         Ghana Parliamentary Caucus against Hunger and Malnutrition

GHACCSUN      Ghana Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Scaling Up Nutrition

GHS                   Ghana Health Service

GSS                  Ghana Statistical Service

HAG                 Hunger Alliance of Ghana

MOH               Ministry of Health

MOFA              Ministry of Food and Agriculture

NAAP               National Alliance Partnership Programme

NDPC               National Development Planning Commission

SUN                 Scaling up Nutrition

WAAAHM       West African Alliance against Hunger and Malnutrition

WIAD               Women in Agriculture Development

WFP                 World Food Programme (UN) 

Table of content

 

  • Introduction

 

1.1 Rational of the forum

 

1.2 Objectives

1.3 Participation, Resource Persons and approach.

 

  • Welcome address by Honorable Appiah-Pinkrah( Co-Chair of the Parliamentarians caucus against hunger and malnutrition)

 

  • Statement on the current status of Ghana’s food security situation(Honorable Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister in charge of crops, Ministry of Food and Agriculture)

 

  • Statement on the essence of promoting national inclusiveness and political commitment to scale up nutrition in Ghana (Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa-National SUN focal person).

 

  • Emerging issues, discussions and suggestions

 

  • Highlight of the contributions of Civil Society Organizations (GHACCSUN) towards the realization of SUN objectives in Ghana (2013-2015).

 

  • Way forward

 

  • Closing remarks( Honorable Appiah-Pinkrah)

 

 

  • Introduction

Hunger and malnutrition have become major developmental issues confronting Ghana. Food security has declined dramatically in Ghana in recent reports. World Food Programme 2014 estimates that more than 3 million Ghanaians remain food insecure, making food security the country’s greatest challenge over the years.  Provision of enough food to feed the entire population has escaped many governments over the years despite policy measures to tackle the situation. The Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA II) is the medium-term national development policy framework of Government. It provides a consistent set of development policy objectives and strategies to guide the preparation and implementation of medium-term and annual development plans and budgets at sectorial and district levels. The medium term development vision of the GSGDA II is “a stable, united, inclusive and prosperous country with opportunities for all”. It is stated that the attainment of this vision requires a rise in agricultural productivity among other developmental goals while contributing to food and nutrition security for a sustained reduction of hunger and malnutrition.

 

The GSGDA II vision is further illustrated in the Health Sector Medium Term Development Plan (2014-2017) and the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (2011-2015). Ghana’s nutrition objectives are to reduce child malnutrition, prevent and control Vitamin A, iron, and iodine deficiencies, ensure household food security, and reduce infant, child and maternal mortality.

 

Ghana is one of the few countries in sub-Sahara Africa that has achieved the Millennium Development Goal one of halving extreme hunger and poverty. However greater efforts should be made to consolidate the gains if Ghana is to succeed. For the current and future generations, further improvements in economic growth, agriculture, education and health will depend on how malnutrition and hunger challenges are addressed today. The Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2011 revealed startling indicators on child malnutrition in Ghana. Under nutrition contributes to about 50% of deaths among children under five in Ghana. Due to underweight, 12,000 children under five years die a year. Vitamin A deficiency will further cause the death of about 110,000 from 2011-2020.

 

According to Ghana Health Service reports, 14% of children under 5 years are under weight and 9% are wasted. Ghana has however made a considerable progress in reducing stunting by 8% from 28% according to the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health survey report.  Attempts have also been made to make agriculture policies and plans nutrition sensitive. Further progress shall require concerted effort by stakeholders to ensure that Ghana achieves its target of attaining a zero hunger society by 2025(in reference to the ECOWAS Zero Hunger Initiative target).

 

Stakeholders’ fora on food security and nutrition then becomes relevant at all levels as it encourages broad based consultation on Ghana’s food security and nutrition challenges and also provides the medium to challenge government to muster the necessary political commitment to make food security and nutrition a national developmental issue. It is against this background that the Hunger Alliance of Ghana under the National Alliance Capacity building Porgramme(NAPP) organized a stakeholders’ forum  on food security and nutrition at the British Council, Accra on the 26th of January 2016.

 

1.1 Rational of the forum

In the framework of promoting and protecting all human rights, the progressive realization of the right to adequate food is a legitimate concern of the Government of Ghana, the international community and civil society. Recent development in food security and nutrition in Africa and in the West African sub-region provide additional opportunity for Political Leaders to make significant contributions towards the attainment of a hunger –free society at the regional and national level. Ghana has made valuable efforts to reach this target. However there remains more to be done to achieve the target while looking at the quality of the investments accruing from the budgetary allocation to Agriculture. If the solution for hunger and malnutrition is to be found, then political commitment and strong leadership are required. This stakeholders’ forum was held to;

  • To identify and discuss the challenges in food security policies, plans and implementation processes in Ghana and how to contribute towards its solution as stakeholders.
  • To share ideas on how to effectively advocate for a paradigm shift in policy implementation processes in Ghana in order to boost Ghana’s food production and to enhance the nutritional status of Ghanaians.

 

1.2 Objectives

The forum had three main objectives:

 

  1. To renew stakeholders’ commitment to the fight against hunger and malnutrition in Ghana through cross learning and fruitful deliberation on the current food security and nutrition situation in Ghana.
  2. To inform participants about the level of political commitment of government of Ghana in taking decisions that can ultimately improve food security and nutrition outcomes.
  3. To help stakeholders come up with an advocacy plan to challenge government to invest more in food production and nutrition.

 

1.3 Participation Resource persons and approach

Participants for the forum included CSO representatives, UN Agencies, two representatives from USAID, the Deputy Minister of agriculture in charge of crops and the national Scaling Up Nutrition Focal Person. Others were representatives from Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, National Development Planning Commission and Ghana Health Service. The forum involved a welcome address from the co-chair of the Ghana Parliamentarians against hunger caucus, a statement from the Deputy Minister of agriculture in charge of crops, statement from the national Scaling Up Nutrition Focal Person and some power point presentations. Discussions and deliberations followed. The forum was grounded on solid facilitation process by Dr Nene Azu from Africa Lead.

 

  • Welcome address by Honorable Appiah Pinkrah( Co-Chair of the Parliamentarians caucus against hunger and malnutrition)

The forum commenced at 9:30am with a prayer by Amen Amenreynolds Amen, Director of Amen Amen Institute followed by a welcome address by Honorable Appiah-Pinkrah. He was pleased to be called upon to chair such an important forum that brought together stakeholders’ who could influence Ghana’s food security and nutrition agenda. He reiterated the fact that much was needed to be done to get the desired impact. Efforts should be made to sensitize law makers in Ghana for increased political commitment to ensure a hunger and malnutrition free society. He wished participants fruitful deliberations and urged them to come out with workable solutions to move the agenda forward.

 

  • Statement on the current status of Ghana’s food security situation(Honorable Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister in charge of crops, Ministry of Food and Agriculture)

 

Dr Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister in charge of crops at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, started by thanking the Alliance for the opportunity to make a statement on Ghana’s food security situation. He stated that it was the responsibility of the ministry to coordinate the sector in a way as to make food available, accessible and affordable to every Ghanaian.  The foremost objective was food security for all as captured in government’s policy agenda for the sector. In fulfillment of this policy, governments over the years have worked hard to keep Ghana relatively food secured. He agreed totally with the Hunger Alliance of Ghana that hunger and malnutrition have become major development issues confronting every government globally. The ever increasing population must be continuously fed with adequate quality food produced with dwindling resources and unpredictable environment in the wake of climate change.

 

He continued saying that Ghana was relatively food secured, however, the Ministry was monitoring the food supply situation very carefully in view of the bad rainfall performance in the 2015 farming season.

Ghana (in 2014) was food secured in the production of most staple foods like, cassava, yam, cocoyam, plantain, maize, sorghum, groundnut and cowpea. However, there is a deficit for rice, millet and soybean as well as domestic meat and fish production. Dr Alhassan said food availability was linked to the cropping season with seasonal rainfall; therefore, food prices were often not stable as pricing was linked to the availability of harvest.

He said policies like the introduction of protected cultivation in our agricultural production system were being implemented among other options to help make available some important vegetables like tomatoes all year round.

The Deputy Minister concluded by pledging government’s commitment to ensure that the people of Ghana remained safe from hunger and would continue to work with stakeholders to realize and sustain Ghana’s food security.

Honorable Deputy Minister in charge of crops making a statement at the forum

  • Statement on the essence of promoting national inclusiveness and political commitment to scale up nutrition in Ghana (Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa-National SUN focal person).

 

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, the National Scaling Up Nutrition Focal person, expressed worry about the 42.5 per cent of Ghanaian children who are still malnourished despite the drop from 50%. He asked how many adults had transited from malnutrition from the cost of hunger study conducted and that there was the need to confront the situation together as a country. He expressed disappointment that locally grown foods which were rich in nutritional content were sidelined for organic ones. It is said that Ghana has achieved MDG 1 but at times there was the need to challenge such methodologies of such studies because in his view malnutrition still continued to exist if one was to take a trip to some rural settings and see for what was actually happening. If this continued, some Ghanaians would be marginalized through no fault of theirs.  He urged the Hunger Alliance of Ghana and other civil society groups to work with people at the grassroots to ensure that nutrition issues were taken more seriously.

 

Again, he said this time around, political leaders are becoming more and more conscious of the responsibility to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition at the regional level and these efforts must be sustained by more determined political leaders to realize this vision at the national level. But one very important aspect stakeholders were not paying much attention to was the district levels where interventions were needed the most. He proposed one ladle of beans in the diet of children could solve this challenge and wondered why this was so difficult to do. He concluded by saying that if the country failed to take good care of its children, ill-health and non-productivity would drain the national scarce resources.

 

Professor Badu Akosa, National SUN Focal Person making a statement

 

  • Emerging issues, discussions and suggestions

Stakeholders were happy with the powerful statements delivered by the key resource persons in the helms of affairs as far as food security and nutrition was concerned. However some expressed worry that indeed many conferences and forums like these were held and the impact was not felt because the district levels where the impact could be greater were not involved at the policy planning processes.

  • Alhaji Tetteh from the Ghana Muslim Mission asked why it was so difficult to implement the one ladle of beans to the meals of children as proposed by Professor Akosa. He also asked what the government was doing to make agriculture very attractive to the youth. Honorable Yakubu Alhassan answered that over the years, government has worked with partners (private sector, donors) to build the capacities of stakeholders, introduce new technologies, develop infrastructure such as irrigation facilities, roads, storage structures and processing facilities among others to service the sector. These are all efforts to make agriculture very attractive to every Ghanaian. The one ladle of beans was also under consideration for implementation from the district levels.
  • Mr Kwesi Anin from Amen Amen institute asked if lands were made available for farmers to pursue large scale agriculture. Honorable Pinkrah answered saying that indeed lands are available for agriculture but there is a huge challenge in Ghana. Some people have branched into mining instead of using the land to farm because they find natural resources like gold and diamond more lucrative with quick returns. Also in Ghana when a land is given out to citizens who would want to venture into agriculture, because of its capital intensive nature and the lack of credit faculties to start some farming on the land, the land is left bare for years and then is taken over by some chiefs since most of these lands are stool lands.
  • Ms Paulina Addy, Director of Women In Agriculture Development (WIAD) under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture said WIAD was working with the stakeholders to add more locally grown foodstuff and crops to the School Feeding Programme. This would ensure that the children get adequate nutrition from the food. She said the locally grown foods are very nutritious and healthy for consumption and consuming them will also help farmers to avoid post-harvest losses. She said there was a high malnutrition rate in children, especially children under five and there was the need to educate parents on the need to feed their children with locally grown foodstuff and crops to deal with malnutrition especially in children.
  • Mr Sydney Bampoe Addo, Deputy Director of Statistical Research, Innovation and Development at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture said the main issue in Ghana was ignorance. When adults are well informed of the realities on the ground, they become good crusaders on best practices concerning food production as well as nutrition.
  • Mr Lambert from the Hunger Project Ghana asked what was needed to be done at the district levels to improve nutrition indicators. Some members said everything should be started from the grassroots and there was the need to inculcate certain values in children because once children become adults, it becomes very difficult to educate them for the desired results.
  • Honorable Appiah- Pinkrah said there was the need for institutional framework and set up; the structure must be put in place in districts across the country. Moving forward people are needed at the same districts to sensitize communities continuously.
  • Mr Isaac Ampomah from Concerned Health Ghana stressed that efforts must be seen as a multidisciplinary issue driven by group action. He urged all to play an active role if anything was to be achieved in the country’s’ food security and nutrition agenda.
  • Mrs Juliana Pwamang from USAID was worried about the National Nutrition Policy still at cabinet level and asked why it had not been passed till date. Honorable Pinkrah in response said the policy was not enough to be passed by parliament. Strategies together with a costed plan were still being developed in addition before the policy could be passed.
  • As an addition Ms Addy from WIAD said after institutional frameworks have been set up concretely, persons charged with sensitizations of communities at the district levels should have clear mandates and targets to check performance through proper monitoring and evaluation. There is also the need to hold people accountable to ensure districts do the right thing.

Participants deliberating at the forum

  • Highlights of the contributions of Civil Society Organizations (GHACCSUN) towards the realization of SUN objectives in Ghana (2013-2015) (DR Frank Mcavor).

The Ghana Coalition of Civil Society Organization on Scaling Up Nutrition (GHACCSUN) hosted by the Hunger Alliance of Ghana has been very instrumental in championing the Scaling Up of Nutrition in Ghana since its formation in 2011. It has under its umbrella many organizations working together to make nutrition a major developmental issue in Ghana. As part of the forum, Dr Frank Mcavor, the Chairman of the Hunger Alliance of Ghana highlighted some success stories of GHACCSUN from 2013-2015.

7.0 Way Forward

  1. Increase public service programmes in the districts through forums, workshops and especially through the media because lack of information was identified to be a key challenge.
  2. Stakeholders should look at the quality of information being disseminated. There should be a clearing house to gather accurate information through proper research before dissemination.
  3. Committees should be set up in the districts to start working on food security and nutrition interventions
  4. Stakeholders should listen more to the needs of farmers and the grassroots people than policy makers who do not really understand what is happening on the ground. The people at the grassroots level understand their challenges better than policy makers.

 

  • Closing Remarks

Honorable Pinkrah concluded by saying that stakeholders’ participation was very valuable and information given shall be used. He urged all participants to work together towards a bright future for Ghanaian children and to the world at large. A closing prayer was said by Alahji Tetteh from Ghana Muslim Mission. Forum closed at 12:30pm

 

 

 

                  PROGRAMME FOR THE  STAKEHLODERS’ FORUM ON FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION


26TH JANUARY, 2016   BRITISH COUNCIL AUDITORIUM   

                                                    Agenda

Time Activity Responsibility
8:30am-9.20 am Registration  
  Opening  prayer Amen Amenreynolds Amen
9.25am – 9.40am Chairman’s opening  statement  Honorable Kwabena Appiah -Pinkrah, Co-Chair, Ghana Parliamentarians Against Hunger and Malnutrition Caucus.
9:40am-10:10am Statement on the current status of Ghana’s  food security situation Honorable  Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister in charge of crops(MOFA)

 

10:10 am-10:30 am Snack break  
10:30 am-10:50 am Statement  on the essence of promoting national inclusiveness and political commitment to scale up nutrition in Ghana Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa-National SUN focal person
10:50am-11:10am Statement on the current nutrition situation in Ghana and efforts by government to improve nutrition outcomes. Mrs Esi Amoaful, Ghana Health Service.
11:10am-11:30am Highlight of the contributions of Civil Society Organizations (GHACCSUN) towards the realization of SUN objectives in Ghana (2013-2015) Dr Frank Mcavor, Chairman Hunger Alliance of Ghana
11:30am-12:00pm Open discussion Participants
12:10pm Departure