FOOD SECURITY & AGRICULTURE POLICY

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November 26, 2012 by cdlele

CONTEXT FOR REFORM

  • Famine, dry lands, banning of exports of foods (33 countries enacted export bans between 2007 & 2011), stockpiling to manipulate prices (e.g. Thailand), speculative trading, land grabs in Asia and Africa by Arab countries, demand for bio fuels (USA and Brazil)
  • We are all familiar with stories of food wasted on farms (left to rot because of lack of ready market, storage or transport), food wasted in transit to market and at the market (due to poor storage facilities/practices).
  • Lack of technology and absence of cutting edge agronomic practices have been responsible for low farm yields and food insecurity.
  • It is time for Ghana to experience the green revolution that has passed it by for a long time.

POLICY GOALS

  • Increase farm yield, tonnes per hectare; food availability and affordability; food security; and create healthy and productive people.

STRATEGIES

Science and technology

  • Use technology, science and research that to produce the best varieties of crops, upgrade farm practices, fertilisers and livestock farming.
  • By investing heavily in research Brazil has turned itself into the first tropical farm giant in the world and joined the ranks of temperate food giants like America, Europe and Canada. Brazil’s agricultural research institute has been the catalyst for this transformation. E.g. soya beans did not grow well in the tropics but Brazil is now a leading producer of soya beans because of work done by the research institute to reduce the acidity levels in the soil.
  • Pioneer, a leading global seed company, has reported that central Ghana has one of the best maize lands in the world but only 3 percent of country’s seed is of the hybrid type that can take full advantage of the quality of the land. Brazil’s land is less quality but 90 percent of its seeds are hybrid, which has made Brazil the 3rd largest exporter of maize
  • Resource the various government agricultural research centres and university centres to invent and innovate cutting edge practices in farming, and form partnerships with farmers to cascade research and best practices
  • Create links between research centres and other leading global research centres
  • Use science and technology to find better ways of utilising the three basic component of farming land, water, and fertiliser to increase yield

Land

  • Brazil turned its savannah grassland, which was deemed useless for farming, into cultivatable lands. E.g. it reduced the acidity levels in the land to make soya beans, which did not grow well in the tropics, thrive and become a major export for Brazil. Ghana falls within the Guinea belt of Africa and has good cultivatable land
  • Attract and encourage big commercial farms, as done by Brazil. Big farm are able to produce more and invest heavy in modern and best yielding practices
  • Support small scale private farms as done in India, Vietnam., Thailand to utilise modern and best practices and access capital and needed resources to increase yield
  • Quality counts more than quantity consumed – cuts mortality, health cost and increase productivity.  Breed crops with extra nutrients and fortify processed foods with essential nutrients to boost health of the population. E.g. cassava with vitamin A is being trailed in Nigeria; orange sweet potato has been infused with vitamin A in Uganda and Mozambique by Harvest Plus.
  • Innovative ways of soil management to make it able to maintain nutrients and retain water for higher yields. This will also reduce land use and help with sustaining the environment.

Water

  • Availability and access to water is crucial for a successful farming revolution. However future scarcity of water is predicted, therefore, new improved and effective ways of using water and better irrigation facilities and practices are needed to limit water wastage.
  • Learn from Israel, the leader in the prudent use of water for farming – forge partnership with them and encourage exchanges with farmers
  • Invest in drip feed irrigation practices, which is comparatively cheaper, and have been shown to significantly reduce water wastage and increase yield by farmers in India and Israel

Fertiliser

  • Fertilisers are very essential for crops production but Africa farmers use an average of 10kg of fertilisers compared to 180kg by Indian farmers.  Make fertilisers available, accessible, and affordable to farmers, and support them to use it effectively.
  • Make fertilisers available and affordable to farmers – as done by Malawi. Malawi is now net exporter of food.
  • Better research into organic and non-organic fertilisers and their effective use to increase yield. And check uncontrolled and improper use of chemical fertilisers – improper use have significant environmental impact in the long run. E.g. large amount of toxins found in rivers in China and the American Midwest where there has been heavy and uncontrolled use of fertilisers
  • Encourage the use of organic fertiliser practices given the health benefits and boom in organic food usage (boost export)

Livestock

  • Global increase in meat demand and cost influenced by growing demand from China, India and other advancing countries has implications for meat availability and food security. As shown by the FAO, there is positive relation between the demand for meat and the development status of a country – demand for meat rises as a country gets richer.
  • Support farmers to switch from traditional open air methods of animal farming to close and battery systems – tried and tested ways of increasing production.  Battery farming practices has Implications on animal welfare, as seen in recent protest in developed countries and increasing demand for free range animal products in developed countries.  But the huge gains in nutrition, food availability and security, cost and cut in land wastage overwhelms the concerns about animal welfare
  • Brazil has become the world’s largest exporter of chicken, India the leader in dairy herd, and China has seen vast increases in egg and milk production by supporting its farmers to use modern practices and high breeding birds and cattle. Build collaborations with these counties and lean from them.
  • Research into better feeding and disease control practices and support farmers to access and utilised these
  • Attract and encourage big commercial animal farms – both local and foreign
  • Support farmers to access resources including capital, and land

Cutting waste

  • High post harvest waste in Ghana – big culprit for food shortage
  • Building vast modern silos to store surplus produce – encourage both public and private silo building and continue current government buffer stock strategy
  • Improve rural transportation to ease the conveying of food to the markets and limit waste on farms
  • Support businesses to invest in modern storage and transport facilities with better refrigeration to cut wastage of food in transit and market spoilage
  • Attracting, encourage and support food processing industries to convert farm produce into semi and food

Good governance

  • As Amartya Sen rightly noted, in ‘poverty and famine’ (1981), good governance matters as much as wages, distribution and food abundance in ensuring food security.
  • Strengthen the Food & Agriculture with a minister and three ministers of state each responsible for crops, livestock & fisheries, and science, technology & food industries
  • Decentralise food & agric offices to support farmers & industries and accountable for performance in their areas.
  • Refocus Agricultural Development Bank (ABD) on its remit of supporting farmers and food industries capital at lower commercial rates
  • Open up sector to competition from competent local and foreign farmers and industries
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