Data from the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana (CAG) has revealed a negative two percent of the country’s food security balance sheet, indicating that there is less availability of sufficient quantities of appropriate food to individual citizens.
Food security is noted as when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
The Chief Executive Officer for the Chamber of Agribusiness- Ghana, Mr. Anthony Selorm Morrison, has divulged that considering the food in storage or reserves along with the volume of food imported in comparison to national consumption demands, there has been a shortfall of two percent (2%).
The CEO indicated that despite government’s flagship programmes such as Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) and Rearing for Food and Jobs initiatives which government banked its hopes on to transform food security, the country is still experiencing food insufficiency.
Morrison attributed the dwindling domestic production of food items to lack of commitment by governments over the last two decades, explaining that spending on agriculture or food production over the period has been inadequate and, in most cases, misdirected.
Data from CAG indicates that the country’s food importation bill has jumped to being in excess of US$5billion per annum.
To change this narrative, the CEO of CAG averred that government must embark on the right investment procedures. Though the flagship PFJ has been running for the last seven years, the amount of investment made is only estimated at GH¢6billion.
This amount, as stated by Mr. Morrison, is less than US$1billion in current terms, hence, woefully inadequate for the required investment to put the country on a path to food security.
“The PFJ is only a political tool providing a pint-size solution to the bigger problem. How do we seek to achieve a food security target when we are investing less in production compared to how much food we import?”Mr. Anthony Selorm Morrison
Ghana’s quest to ensure food security per the current estimated amount spent on food imports means the country will have to allocate not less than US$1billion each year to food production in incremental demands, at least for the next ten years to achieve a meaningful target.
This year, government is spending almost US$52million on its PFJ programme according to the 2023 national budget.
As a signatory to the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme in 2003 (the Malabo Declaration), of which member-countries were expected to increase agricultural investment to 10 percent of annual budgets, Ghana has consistently struggled to meet even two percent of budgetary allocation to the sector.
It has been observed that the total allocation to the agriculture sector in the 2023 national budget is only 1.13 percent, woefully short of the Malabo’s pledge declaration.
A Call On Government To Strengthen The Agric Sector
The Chamber recommended that government should adopt internal mechanisms to curb the challenge and improve the situation.
“Over 50 percent of non-essential commodities on shelves across all supermarkets must be avoided, with priority to local industries to produce such.”Mr. Anthony Selorm Morrison
Mr. Morrison urged that special protection mechanisms must be given to local industries; and quota systems allocated for the production of items including fruit-juice, tooth-picks, matches, and candles among others, adding that the listed items are contributing a huge forex burden to imports and causing the cedi’s depreciation.