Food Security Situation In Ghana

Summary of Household food security

About 1.2 million people, representing 5 percent of Ghana’s population, are food insecure.  Thirty four percent (34%) of the population are in Upper West region, followed by Upper East with 15% and Northern region with 10%, amounting to approximately 453,000 people. Refer to figure 1 (WFP, 2009).

Throughout the country, about 2 million people are vulnerable to become food insecure. Their food consumption patterns were barely acceptable at the time of the survey and can quickly deteriorate following a natural or man-made shock.

About 507,000 (40%) people are vulnerable of becoming food insecure in the rural areas of Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions. Up to 1.5 million people vulnerable to food insecurity live in the rural and urban areas of the remaining seven regions, with the largest share of them in Brong-Ahafo (11%), in Ashanti (10%), followed by Eastern (8%) and the Volta region (7%).

Months of inadequate household food

Months of inadequate household food provisioning has been defined as the time between stock depletion and the next harvest (Bilinsky and Swindale, 2007). It is usually used as a measure of food insecurity in a highly subsistence-oriented area where production is primarily for home consumption and households do not make significant sales or purchases in the market. Quaye (2008) reported that most farmer households experience significant degree of food insecurity with food insecure periods spanning between 3 and 7 months (Fig. 2). Upper East Region was the worst affected as it experienced the longest food shortage period of 6 months. The Northern and Upper West regions recorded 5 months of food inadequacy.

Table1: Months of Household Food Insecurity in Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions of Ghana

(Quaye, 2008)


As indicated above, farmers are not able to produce enough to last throughout the year and also unable to store enough produce for home consumption throughout the year. The crucial question is: how are they able to survive? Table below gives a list of coping strategies adopted by famers during periods of food insecurity. Other strategies reported to sustain food security in Ghana include shifting to less expensive and

less preferred foods, borrowing food or money to buy, purchasing food on credit, seeking assistance from friends and relatives and purchasing street food (Nyanteng and Asuming-Brepong, 2003).

Table 2: Coping strategies adopted during hunger periods

(Quaye , 2008)

Measures to ensure food security in the northern region

For the past years MoFA has embarked on various Food Security programmes in collaboration with other institutions and NGOs in the Northern Region of Ghana.

The current Block Farm Programme implemented by MoFA involves all the three regions in Northern Ghana .

By this programme improved seeds, fertilizer, weedicide and tractor services are provided to farmers who pay the total amount involved in kind after harvesting.   There are organized groups who have their farms in one location (block).

The Programme was initiated by the Government to address three main objectives.  The objectives include;

v  Support farmers to increase production to ensure food security

v  Generate employment in rural communities especially among the youth.

v  Increase incomes of small farm households.

The target crops for the programme are Rice, Maize and Soybean and sorghum which are the main staples for most Ghanaians and hence increase in the production of these crops offers a sure way of addressing food security issues.

At the end of the 2009 programme, Maize production increased from 131,859MT in 2008 to 167,842MT in 2009 representing a percentage increase of 27%.  Rice production increased from 105,278MT in 2009 to 142,219MT in 2009 representing an increase of 35% whiles Soybean production increased from 68,243MT in 2008 to 84,118MT in 2009 representing a percentage increase of 23%.

MoFA has instituted the Agricultural Mechanization Services Centres (AMSEC) in the Northern Region to enhance mechanization services.   Individuals, groups and some institutions have been supported by MoFA to acquire the farming machinery and equipment to establish these centres.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has also set up National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) to ensure food security and to insulate farmers against losses resulting from anticipated increases in production.

NAFCO  is  mandated to manage government’s emergency food security, to purchase, sell, preserve and distribute food stuff, to mop up excess produce from all farmers in order to reduce post harvest losses resulting from spoilage due to poor storage, thereby protecting farm incomes and to facilitate the export of excess stock.

The UN World Food Programme is also supporting Ghana especially in Northern Ghana in many aspect of Food Security. A typical example is their initiative to support the school feeding programme. This programme provided 100,000 children with school meals in 2009. Today, WFP is reaching 122,000 children in 304 schools (Baafi, 2010). The food provides an incentive for children to attend school, but more importantly, the meals are vital for improving children’s health.


Over the past 10 years the Northern Region of Ghana has experienced a highly variable and unpredictable climate. Weather predictions have evaded us on several occasions. Currently floods and droughts can occur in the same area within months. This poses a serious threat to food productivity in the Northern Region where production is mainly rain fed. It is projected that agricultural production and access to food in many African countries would be severely affected (UNFCCC, 2007). The northern region of Ghana has started experiencing this phenomenon and if nothing is done about it, food security would seriously be affected and the problem of malnutrition would be exacerbated.

Other possible impact of the climate change on food security  in the  region will be decreased yield due to  loss of land,  uncertainty about what and when to plant,  increase in the number of people at  risk from hunger, decreased fish stock due to increasing temperatures and fall of net revenues from crops.

Therefore food security programmes in the region should therefore consider incorporating climate change adaptation and mitigation aspects in order for farmers to cope with the prevailing increase in the frequency and intensity droughts and floods.

21 Responses to Food Security Situation In Ghana

  1. Kwame Ayisi says:

    why is the north which is the breadbasket of the country seems to be more food insecure than the south. i think we need to look at storage too

    • yangnemengamoses says:

      This is a very good question. I equally ask myself the same question as a native of the North – upper west region. It may interest you to know the question that pesters me; why do we the northerners work so hard on our farms, yet we don’t have enough food to eat and sell for the whole year round? Now, my response to your question is that, actually storage is a factor, but larger part of is due to low food production. Why? Farmers can not afford to buy farm inputs such as good seeds, farm equipment, fertilizer, chemicals etc. Poor farming practice, pest and diseases are other factors affecting their crop production. Besides, the few, that are able to harvest enough to consume and sell are faced with the challenge of available market and low prices of the food stuff. Thus, these factors affect their food production and consumption; for that matter rendered us vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition. This is my opinion based on my experience.

      • Chris James says:

        It is a long time since I made my first comment and since which time I have had regular contact with another correspondent, Abubakar Seidu. It seems to us that there is a vicious circle whereby the labour and suitable land exists to increase the crop but there is no market place. Moreover, the crop quality is poor v/v international standards. This is resolvable by an injection of cash for the farmers so as to provide the farmers with improved seed, inputs, better husbandry, and post harvest storage. It’s not rocket science. But still the farmers need a market, therefore to really gain a benefit for Ghana as a whole, and to set an example for other agricultural products, the produce must be export orientated in order to gain much needed foreign exchange. However, it is impossible for the farmers to deal directly with international importers (many reasons) therefore the solution is in the building of a local processing plant to purchase from the farmers (it becomes their market) and to trade internationally in: groundnuts, refined oil and animal feed cake. This needs farmer support and also a great deal of cash. Given that the smallest economical capacity of plant capable of supplying the quality of oil /cake needed for international trade is ca. 50,000 tonnes /year of farmer stock (Ghana produces already 350-500,000 tonnes /year) where are the farmers that can produce this extra quantity if the funding was available? If this problem can be cracked there is also an export market for quality kernels and this could raise the farm demand to 200,000 tonnes over time, but international markets have to be won by quality, consistency in supply and price competitiveness. It’s doable, believe me, but it needs a concerted effort. How to do it?

  2. misokwart says:

    of course , curbing postharvest losses will go a long way to improve food security

  3. Chris James says:

    Regarding Groundnuts: I am considering the setting up of a process plant to extract oil from groundnuts. This will also produce a high protein oil rich animal feed cake. If I buy groundnuts in the market place they are too expensive. They have also been deshelled and yet I need to buy as ‘farmer stock’, ie as groundnuts (in-shell). Therefore I need to determine the difference between the wholesale price in the markets and the farm gate price. It seems to me that there could be a big difference. Can anyone tell me the difference in price.

    • Alhassan Abdulai says:

      James, I think buying at the farm gate is cheaper because it does not include cost of transportation and the farmer gets satisfied with little profit. For the market place, huge profit is their main concern and as well, they want to sell to meet their transportation and other cost. If you can contact me I will be of help to you

    • Abubakar Seidu says:

      Hello Chris!
      It’s a long time and I have just seen that you have been digging deep into the subject. I think your concerns are valid but we can easily handle that when we control two twins; Production and Yields!

  4. samuel says:

    I think your plan to set up a process plant to extract oil may be good but the challenge there is the poor yields of the crop recorded over the past six years. Many farmers have stop cropping groundnuts and gone are the days you find large cropped lands of groundnuts. This may affect quantities that you may require for the prcessing.

  5. hetty says:

    To support you Samuel, farm lands are far apart from each other. mode of buying from farm to farm will be expensive and time wasting.This was why there was a need for a government agency that all farmers send their produce to be stored like Kwame Ayisi said. This will make life easier for well meaning Ghanaians who want to come back home and to establish a processing factory. Also CSIR should wake up from their slumber, study the latest trends in the manufacturing of processing equipment and to learn to refabricate a processing life that uses less manual labour that the single head old type crushers, press and strainers.


    Can,t support organizations to try increase yield of groundnuts using appropriate fertilizers and or rhizobium inoculants?

  7. Diana Sena says:

    this approache should not only be northern patt of the country

    • Evans says:

      Agricultural Biotechnology for potent seeds can be a solution.We can never be food secured nation if we fail to acknowledge the fact that the global climate change is dawning on us, there is an uncontrolled increase in population not paralleling with resources available. i farmed in chereponi in 2017 and virtually lost everything to drought. lets commercialize Genetically improved seeds.

  8. philip says:

    good research, excellent write up

  9. Why ghana still insecure in food situations

  10. Selasi Agbenyegah says:

    It is important we turn attention to food security in general and look at which factors are responsible for food shortages in Ghana. My first question is, are we actually producing enough as a nation? Do we have what it takes to produce more? Are our institutions (financial) interested in securing our food supply? What contributions can all of us make to ensure food security in Ghana

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  13. Blege precious kwaku says:

    Good work

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  15. Nartey says:

    when was this written

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