Real Leadership Required To Address Food Security…In Ghana

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viagra Michigan In the recent State of the Nation Address (SNA) by the President of Ghana, H.E. John Dramani Mahama, a section was dedicated to Agriculture and Food Security.

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Road Infrastructure Uncertainties – The completion points of many of these roads which are part of the Eastern, Western and Central corridor have not been verified at the time of writing this report. In Accra however, the Tetteh Quarshie -Madina road for example remains more or less as it was at the start of the year 2013. In addition the road between Accra and Kumasi is testimony of a failure to govern by the NDC government;

Airport Infrastructure Development Stagnant – Domestic air travel has increased tenfold while international travel increased three fold and that is indeed a high point for the nation as aptly noted by the president. This he said warranted the expansion of four local airports and construction of a new international airport. This however seems slow to materialize as the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), the sole international airport has been under renovations/expansions for approximately seven years;

Drivers of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) Ignored – The two major drivers of FDI are corruption and cost-of-doing-business perceptions, and on both Ghana rates poorly. Despite this little is done to tackle these issues in a concerted way;

High Cost of Living is Legendary – The prices of petroleum products are unbearable, utility bills have skyrocketed to suicidal levels. In fact the Ghana Medical Association is on record to have warned that the current economic hardship in the country could trigger more suicides if government did not take appropriate steps to improve the living standards of the ordinary Ghanaian.

Imprudent Spending – Various cases of profligate spending has been highlighted by critics such as the sudden increase of GHS52 million by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to construct two less passport offices than the previous year and the allocation of GHS100 million to the Ministry of Information where only GHS85 million was allocated to the Ministry of Roads and Transport, an institution which has far larger capital expenditure demands.

The statement by the President that “Government’s vision to ensure food security in Ghana has been largely achieved” is astonishing in the light of well documented facts that millions of Ghanaians are struggling to afford three “square meals” a day and that millions in the Northern sectors of Ghana are struggling to even get one “square meal” a day.

The President also mentioned that Ghana achieved surpluses in our traditional staple crops: cassava, yam, plantain and maize. According to him this has enhanced food security in Ghana, as these foods are now plentiful in the market at reasonable prices.

What the President, however, neglected to mention is the massive waste of most of these crops due to a lack of storage facilities as well as the lack of value-added processing plants.

The issue of rice production and importation again received considerable attention and various figures were bandied about such as a 60% increase in local rice production. The vision of Ghana as rice export nation was yet again mentioned but little was said on exactly what will be required to achieve that and what the time-frames are to get there.

In the meantime the policy of making inefficient and unproductive industries efficient and productive through exorbitant taxes on imported foodstuff continues at the peril of Ghanaian consumers.

Underlying this philosophy is a seemingly misunderstanding of what food security is all about, namely “preferred, available, affordable and nutritious food for all.” Most countries are dependent to some extent on trade to ensure food security, but most countries protect their consumers against the impact of the cost of imported basic foodstuff. In Ghana it is exactly the opposite.

Looking at the problems and challenges that Ghana faces as highlighted by criticism of the State of the Nation Address one can only conclude that Ghana is faced with a leadership problem where the difference between efficiency (doing things right) and effectiveness (doing the right things) is clearly understood.

When Information gets GHS100 million and roads only GHS85 million there is surely something wrong. Similarly when you know you should spend 10% of your budget on agriculture and only spend in the region of 2% you should know that objectives will not be met.

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Food Security Ghana