The World Food Programme (WFP) has embarked on a groundbreaking collaboration with local food manufacturers aimed at providing safe and nutritious meals to beneficiaries of its programmes.
This strategic initiative encompasses the entire food production process, from sourcing to processing and distribution. It aligns with WFP’s local sourcing policy, which aims to ensure that food products procured for vulnerable populations in conflict-affected, climate-stricken and COVID-19-impacted countries in Africa meet stringent quality and safety standards.
Under this initiative, food processors specialising in grains, cereals, fortified oils, cereal blends and peanut butter will receive support from the WFP. At the five-day Africa Food Safety and Quality Retreat held in Accra, Barbara Tulu Clemens, Country Director of WFP-Ghana, reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to ensuring that over half of the essential nutritious food products required for its programmes are procured within the African continent. The retreat, attended by food-safety and quality experts from across Africa and beyond, focuses on promoting the sourcing of safe and healthy food products from local markets to safeguard lives in countries where WFP operates.
Key topics being discussed include aflatoxin control and management strategies; the impact of climate change on food safety and quality; and the significance of food standards in regulating safety, particularly in developing countries with limited regulatory frameworks.
In addition to collaborating with manufacturers, WFP is supporting the establishment of new food processing facilities for two industrial food processors in Ghana.
One of these companies already exports life-saving nutritious food to vulnerable countries such as Afghanistan, while the other is involved in producing safe, high-quality and nutritious foods for local consumption. Furthermore, WFP in conjunction with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) will soon commission three food processing facilities to produce nutritious cereal blends and other locally-sourced creative foods that cater to the nutritional needs of local communities. Future plans also include facilitating the establishment of multi-user agro-processing firms for various foods, as part of WFP’s country strategic plan for 2024-2028.
Emphasising the relevance of this collaboration, Roderick Kwabena Daddey-Adjei – Deputy Chief Executive Officer-FDA, highlighted the crucial role of food and nutrition in achieving a decent life and vibrant community, particularly in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. He commended WFP’s efforts to support Africa in achieving food security amid economic challenges arising from conflicts, natural disasters and climate change.
The FDA has developed a food safety policy and progressive licencing scheme to ensure hygienic conditions for local industries producing food products, thereby facilitating their eligibility for WFP’s local sourcing support.
Virginia Siebenrok, Food Safety Quality Chief of WFP, stressed the ongoing meeting’s significance – emphasising the need to address challenges, exchange knowledge, align visions and standardise technical support and operational interventions to improve food safety and quality.
As the collaboration between the WFP and local manufacturers gains momentum, it holds the promise of ensuring vulnerable populations receive safe and healthy food; thus fostering sustainable development and resilience in communities across Africa.