The World Food Programme (WFP) is collaborating with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to implement the Enhanced Nutrition and Value Chains (ENVAC) project, an integrated nutrition and agriculture programme being funded by Canada.
The five-year project (2017-2021) aims to reduce stunting and micro-nutrient deficiencies through private-sector led approaches to agriculture and agri-business, by improving production of nutritious local staple foods by smallholder farmers.
It will also enhance industrial and community level agro-processing and increase consumption of nutritious foods by women and children to prevent stunning.
The collaboration between WFP and FDA will create synergies in the technical know-how of FDA and WFP country, at the regional and headquarters level, to provide enhanced food regulatory oversight for ENVAC activities ensuring safer food and strengthen FDA’s capacity to carry out food safety activities through the provision of resources where available.
Ms Rukia Yacoub, the Country Director, WFP, said under ENVAC, small holder farmers in five regions- Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West – would be encouraged to produce good quality maize and other cereals, which they sell to two industrial food processors in the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo Regions.
She said the WFP had provided technical and financial support to these industrial food processors to enable them produce specialised blended nutritious foods (blended cereals mixed with vitamins and minerals) of international standard.
Ms Yacoub added that these blended foods aim to improve nutrition, prevent stunting and micro-nutrient deficiencies initially in the Northern Region where one in three children was stunted, and eventually throughout the entire country and the West Africa sub-region.
Ms Yacoub said the FDA’s expertise would help small holder farmers improve food safety, provide food safety and quality support to the two industrial processors and promote hygiene practices during the promotion stage of nutritious foods at social behaviour change communication programmes.
She said the ENVAC project encompasses aspects of the government’s flagship programmes- Planting for Food and Jobs and One District One Factory.
She, therefore, added that the private sector companies were being supported to develop their own supply chain system to get their products to the towns and communities where these nutritious foods were being provided to the lowest income quintile and sold at affordable prices.
Mrs Delese A. A Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, said the FDA would lend its support to the project by overseeing the safety and quality management, post-production and market surveillance of targeted agro-food processing companies (from factories to their retailer points).
‘’We will also selected community level agro-food processors, to support safe and nutritional value chain development within the regulatory framework of Ghana,’’ she added.
She said the FDA would carry out its responsibilities in relation to the agreement, which included the provision of technical support to WFP and Processors on requirements necessary for initial product approval and subsequent renewal of all products to be produced under the ENVAC project and ensure that the enforcement team conducted monitoring sites visits, collected data and reported on activities carried out under the ENVAC project.