By: Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh
Email: [email protected]
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has bought maize worth US$300,000 (GH¢580,000) from smallholder farmers in Ghana’s Ejura Sekyedumasi District in the Ashanti Region.
The officials of WFP say represent WFP’s first Delivery at Place order in the country, which requires farmers themselves to transport food to the end destinations.
This purchase of 727 metric tons was undertaken through WFP’s ‘Purchase for Progress’ initiative (P4P) which is working with a range of partners to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and enable them to access markets.
‘In previous purchases, WFP transported the food purchased from farmers in Ejura to beneficiaries in the Northern Region,’ said Ismail Omer, WFP Representative in Ghana.
‘By deciding to take charge of the transportation themselves, the farmers have shown commendable eagerness to access all new markets which are open to them.’
The purchase — enough to feed 50,000 people for one month – will be used for school meals in the food assistance programme for girls’ education, a Ghana Education Service/WFP project in the Northern Region.
The P4P initiative aims to address some of the challenges which smallholder farmers face, such as low productivity, difficulties in accessing markets for their produce and inadequate infrastructure.
In Ghana, twenty-six participating farmer groups with a membership of 1,524 farmers have been given hands-on training in organizational development, production, post-harvest handling, quality control and assurance, marketing and other aspects of the value chain.
Ten of the farmer organizations grow rice and cowpea in Tolon Kumbungu and Tamale in the Northern Region. The remaining 16 groups are maize and cowpea farmers in Ejura Sekyedumase in the Ashanti Region.
The farmers have also been provided with fuel efficient stoves, parboilers, rice reapers and threshers, industrial weighing scales, tarpaulins, moisture content testers, bag stitching machines and other facilities such as community storage centres, to increase productivity and reduce post-harvest losses.
Including this purchase, WFP has bought over 2,900 metric tons of maize worth US$1.3 million from participating smallholder maize and cowpea farmers in the Ashanti Region since the P4P initiative began in Ghana two years ago.
Apart from purchases from smallholder farmers, WFP has recently also increased general food procurement within Ghana. Over the past few years, WFP has injected US$22.7 million into the Ghanaian economy through food bought from local food suppliers, food manufacturers and smallholder farmers.
The food is mostly used in WFP programmes in Ghana such as school meals, nutrition support for vulnerable groups and food for assets projects, or it may be transported to WFP’s operations in neighbouring countries facing food shortages. WFP soon hopes to purchase local rice from P4P farmers in the Northern Region and to export maize for use in WFP projects in some neighbouring countries.
The P4P initiative in Ghana is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Instructively, the WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.