The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged to support the government’s proposed ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme to ensure food security and reduce poverty.
The Agency, through its Feed-The-Future Initiative, is expected to attract more than US$225 million from the U.S government from 2019 to support the country’s agriculture sector for five years.
Feed-the- Future Initiative, is a US government programme aimed at combating global hunger and promoting food security.
Speaking at a two-day Feed the Future Implementing Partner’s Meeting held in Accra on the theme: “Sustaining the Momentum to Finish Strongly,” Andy Karas, the USAID Ghana Mission Director, said the Feed-the- Future Initiative had made significant progress in the Northern Region in terms of poverty reduction and improved nutrition since it started in 2013.
The US government currently supports agriculture in the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) Zones with an annual funding of US$45 million.
Over the past four years, more than US$85 million has been mobilised in capital to support the production of rice, maize and soya bean value chain. This has resulted in the reduction of stunted growth among children under five and improved household nutrition.
Mr. Karas said the FTF programme, which is targeted at maize, rice, and soy beans production for the past four years, had helped to double the production of those staples in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions, and improved the incomes of farmers and reduce poverty by 16 per cent.
He indicated that the US government was committed to extending the Feed-the-Future Initiative in Ghana when it ends next year, and the country stand the chance of attracting more funding for agriculture.
“We are also through the Feed-The-Future programme helping to build a vibrant seed and fertilizer industries. Through the project, three seed laboratories had been constructed in the SADA Zones.
Since Feed the Future started in 2013, our progress has been very encouraging. In the Northern Region, we have made significant progress with poverty and nutrition goals. Vulnerable families are accessing economic opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. I cannot overstate that these achievements would not have been possible without everyone here today,” said Mr. Karas.
“USAID is committed to working with the Ghana government and our Feed the Future partners to accelerate agricultural growth and improve the nutritional status of women and children,” he added.
Mr. Kwesi Korboe, the USAID Embedded Advisor, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto advocated the strong support of the private sector to help revamp and boost the country’s agriculture sector.
Speaking on topic: “The Role of the Private Sector in Agricultural Development in Ghana,” Mr. Korboe indicated that agriculture is a profitable venture and insisted the private sector operators must invest in the sector.
He explained that the private sector could tap into the various opportunities in the country’s agricultural sector to diversify their investment portfolios into other areas including seed, inputs, value-chain and marketing.
Mr. Korboe applauded the US government for its continued technical and financial support for Ghana’s agricultural sector, and lauded USAID for organising the meeting to discuss measures to boost agriculture in the country.
The meeting included a series of panel discussions on innovation, health, and nutrition, as well as the use of information and communication technology in agriculture. Feed the Future partners shared their successes and challenges to drive poverty reduction and economic growth.
Other topics discussed were the promotion of public-private partnerships to sustain results and scale impact; enhancing the competitiveness of key value chains, particularly maize, rice and soybean; and understanding the constraints within Ghana’s seed sector to make high-yielding seed varieties accessible to rural farmers.