Ms. Corey Huntington, Head of Corporation of the Canadian High Commission in Accra, has said a robust and diverse food supply is an essential part of the health and nutrition response to COVID-19; so is properly defined and enforced national guidelines on food safety critical to COVID-19, and to maintaining health and preventing malnutrition.
She was speaking at the launch of the National Food Safety Guidelines for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs). The guidelines are a consolidation of the hitherto scattered ones into a single policy document for ease of reference, regulation and enforcement. The aim is to protect the environment, improve food safety for public health, ensure access to quality food trade globally and ultimately, contribute to national development.
“As you are aware, food safety is a crucial aspect of the food value chain and attention must be given it to ensure that all members of society, especially children and those who have particular vulnerabilities, consume food that is safe and healthy for their growth and productivity,” Ms. Huntington said.
She spoke about Canada’s financial and technical assistance to Ghana in the development of the Food Safety Guidelines and said it was to create increased national awareness regarding food safety, which will contribute to improved health, increased access to quality food trade, reduction of poverty, enhanced productivity and national development.
Canada’s support for food security, she said, is part of the Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) Programme, for which Canada is directly providing $125M to the Government of Ghana.
It is to help modernize the agriculture sector, which has significant potential for reducing poverty and inequality in Ghana. It is partly targeted at increasing local agro-manufacturing capacity.
This has resulted in increased availability of locally transformed nutritious food. Close to 6,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women have taken advantage of this to help prevent stunting among children.
The MAG Programme has as its main objective, improving the production and productivity of farmers. It intends to achieve this by supporting the implementation of a comprehensive market-oriented approach to farming.
It is focused on strengthening and modernizing agricultural extension service delivery at the national, regional and district levels. The initiative operates within the context of the current decentralization policy in Ghana, hence the role of the Local Government Ministry as a key implementing partner.
The expected outcome of the MAG Programme is a more modern, equitable and sustainable agricultural sector that contributes to food security. At the core of the programme therefore is the issue of food safety and its impact on ensuring food security for the population. The lead agency for the implementation of the food safety guidelines is the MLGRD, particularly because MMDAs are the focal points for the implementation of these guidelines.
Ms. Huntington emphasized the need to integrate the food safety guidelines into the by-laws of MMDAs across the country, adding “We have come a long way together since Canada first invested in food security and decentralization in Ghana. Each milestone, like today’s launch, moves us closer to our shared goals”.