FAO Policy Officer Urges Increased Investment in Agriculture
Mr Adama Taoko, Policy Officer and Agriculture Economist, FAO Regional Office for Africa, has called on government to significantly increase investment in the Agriculture sector, especially in areas that will boost nutrition.
He said it had been proven that a one per cent increase in nutrition investment could result in a 16 per cent growth in a country’s Gross Domestic Product in the long term.
Mr Taoko, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Thursday said, government needed to foster greater inter-sectoral collaboration and coordination with stakeholders for the achievement of Food Security and Nutrition goals, in line with Ghana’s priorities.
He said Food insecurity and malnutrition had remained a serious challenge in developing regions, including Africa, despite numerous policy commitments and progresses achieved thus far.
The Policy Officer said government needed to address the gap between the North and the South, Urban and Rural and ease gender inequalities to improve the country’s performance in meeting the Malabo declaration and the Agenda 2030.
The Malabo Declaration contains a half dozen key commitments to transform agriculture across the continent including the pursuing of values and principles of the CAADP process, enhance public and private investment in agriculture and end hunger in Africa by 2025.
He said “Ghana needs to increase the performance of agriculture, increase the contribution of agriculture to the GDP and also increase the performances in addressing the food security and malnutrition effectiveness in the country”.
“Government also needs to better distribute the wealth of the country among its citizens equally with respect to human rights and food to enable them to meet their food and nutrition needs,” he added.
He said the FAO currently, was supporting the Government of Ghana to identify the best ways to meet the targets set for the Malabo declaration and the Agenda 2030 for the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said the FAO was also supporting government to identify key programmes to be implemented to support the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP).
Mr Taoko said with the implementation of the METASIP, the FAO was working with the Ministries, Departments and Agencies to identify policies and measures that must be taken to improve the overall performance of the country on food security and nutrition issues.
“One thing is to identify the targets and another is to implement and we need to identify policies, strategies and key steps to be followed,” he said.
He said improving the economic integration within the Economic Community of West Africa States would be a significant move forward for the region.
Some of the key immediate and underlying factors contributing to the nutrition challenges in Ghana are high rates of infectious diseases among children under five years, due to inadequate access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene as well as malaria endemic areas; periodic flooding and droughts, leading to food insecurity in the northern regions of the country; and rural and urban poverty.
Other basic causes of malnutrition include women’s access to resources, health care and education.