Covid-19: Agribusiness Chamber calls for measures to improve food security

The Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana (CAG) has called on government – as part of measures to deal with effects of the coronavirus outbreak – to scale-up its efforts in improving the nation’s level of food security.

In a communiqué signed by the CEO of CAG, Farmer Anthony S.K. Morrison, the chamber is urging government to as a matter of urgency set up the Ghana Agriculture Emergency and Disaster Fund (GAE-DF) to support farmers and other players in the agriculture supply chain, as well as provide some stimulus packages and other support systems to them.

“The agribusiness industry provides critical opportunity for rural poverty reduction and the development of low-income communities in Ghana. Food security is therefore highly critical, and hence its recognition within the MDGs and SDGs as a strong and critically achievable goal for the world.

“For this reason, CAG is calling on government to profile major food production zones in the country and prioritise resources while embarking on mopping-up other essentials in developing and commercialising vegetables and underutilised crops.

“Food security crops such as rice, maize, soybean, sorghum, yam, potato, cowpea, cassava, millet and groundnuts should be prioritised for commercial development. The poultry, livestock and aquaculture value chains should be included in the stimulus package,” the statement read.

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The chamber further called for government to institute an ad hoc committee, similar to the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), comprising a High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) and relevant stakeholder institutions to oversee emergency efforts.

Food security in Ghana

Food security is a complex phenomenon resulting from multiple causes, which are food availability, food accessibility, food utilisation and food stability. According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), about 5 percent of Ghana’s population are food insecure and about 2 million people are vulnerable to becoming food insecure.

Meanwhile, the devastating effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on public health, and consequently the economy, cannot be overemphasised. There remains uncertainty about the full extent of damage the pandemic will cause, in nominal and real terms, to agricultural productivity, agribusiness logistics, market structures and agro-processing.

While the agricultural sector should, theoretically, be less affected than other sectors, illness-related labour shortages, transport interruptions, limited access to import and export markets and supply chain disruptions – resulting in food loss and wastage and potential price-gouging – is a clear concern. Furthermore, the reduction in purchasing power of individuals and institutions, especially as the tourism sector is adversely affected, could have a trickle-down effect on the agricultural sector.

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