Accra, April 18, GNA – The poor consumption of local dishes and snacks by Ghanaians, especially children, has been blamed largely on mothers and operators of restaurants and not merely because of low demand.
Dr Mrs Mary Opoku-Asiama, Director, Women in Agricultural Development (WIAD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, who told the Ghana News Agency on Thursday, cited ignorance of traditional food recipes and their nutritive values by parents in homes and in contemporary time as a major factor.
‘Go to our restaurants today, is the plain rice, fried rice, colored rice and or jollof. If you are lucky you will find ‘Waakye’ (rice and beans) there. You hardly even find fufu. If you want fufu, it is on request. As for ‘Kokonte’ never,’ she said.
Dr Opoku-Asiama was speaking after a review meeting with national executive members of the Traditional Caterers Association of Ghana and the Indigenous Caterers Association of Ghana in Accra on their contributions at 2012 national farmers’ day celebration.
The meeting was called to look at the roles the traditional caterers could play in promoting the patronage of locally made foods and snacks not only at bars and restaurants, but more so at the national level in order to make local foods attractive, safe and healthy.
‘If our children are eating our traditional foods it means the food crops being produced by farmers will be bought and there will be ready market for our farmers’ crops and therefore our policy as a Ministry for creating wealth for our farmers will become a reality,’ Dr Opoku-Asiama explained.
She, however, said because the traditional dishes were not very easy to cook and parents at home were always in a rush to go to work or attend to their daily chores, rice and other very easy-to-prepare foods like ‘Indomie’ (a type of pasta) become the options.
‘Quite often what they do is to put the rice in the cooker. The stew already in the freezer, they bring it out and there they go. Yes, the traditional dishes takes time but they can also be stored, especially when studies have shown their higher nutritional value compared to the continental dishes,’ she said.
Therefore, she said, WIAD under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture would undertake aggressive campaign to promote traditional dishes and better highlight their nutritional values this year.
She added that the WIAD was also considering latest technologies in value addition for preparing local dishes and snacks. The WIAD, she said, would also develop a recipe booklet after visiting all the regions and districts of the country to collect the right recipes for Ghana’s traditional foods and snacks.
‘…We will also institute an award for stakeholders to ensure that food safety issues are highly upheld by these traditional and indigenous groups in the restaurants and bars.’
Explaining the seriousness of the low patronage, she noted: ‘How many people eat ‘Kokonte’ and ‘Apapransa’ today. But then when they go to parties and see Apapransa for instance, they rush for it. Why don’t they cook at home for their children? Do you see how serious the situation is’?
Mrs Edith Addo, President of the Indigenous Caterers Association of Ghana said, ‘Our children don’t eat the local dishes because their mothers don’t introduce them to it. And when they prepare, the children think it is medicine because is green green. Our mothers are failing us; they are responsible.
‘Go to Morocco today you won’t get them prepare what you just want. They cook and sell their own foods. Even our Ministers and politicians don’t want to eat the indigenous foods. Once they are in their suits they prefer to go to the restaurants to eat the continental dishes. We need to eat what we grow.’
Mrs Grace Ofosu, Greater Accra Chairperson for Traditional Caterers Association of Ghana said, ‘When our children eat some of the local foods, they liked it but we don’t promote their consumption. The School Feeding Programme for instance can be used as a platform to promote the local dishes and snacks.’
Hajia Kadija, a farmer from Aboma Women’s Group at Abokobi in the Greater Accra Region said, ‘eating the local foods you get more nutrition than the continental dishes. For example eating the soya meat is more healthy and nutritious than the chicken and other meat products.’