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
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.
EFFECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON FOOD SECUIRTY
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.