A four-day conference to deliberate on ways toward sustainable food systems, national development, and youth employment through entrepreneurship, especially in Africa, has been organised by economists in the agriculture sector.
The 6th annual conference of the Ghana Association of Agricultural Economists (GAAE), with support from Solidaridad West Africa, was on the theme: " Sustainable Food Systems for National Development."
Opening the workshop, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture responsible for crops, Mr. Yaw Frimpong Addo, called on stakeholders in the agriculture value chain to address food system sustainability.
According to him, building robust food systems was a pivotal step towards ensuring access to a healthy diet and contributing to the sustainability of food systems. He, however, admitted that the current food systems in Ghana were not adequately prioritizing safety, fairness, sustainability and health, and added that it required massive transformation.
To the Deputy Minister, sustainable food systems hinged on food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations were not compromised.
- Mr. Yaw Frimpong Addo, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture responsible for crops
He pointed out that sustainable and resilient food systems were fraught with myriad of challenges such as policy instability, conflicts, climate change, increasing prevalence of shocks from diseases, and low crop yield per hectare.
Mr. Addo, who is also the Member of Parliament for Manso Adubia constituency in the Ashanti Region, was quick to add that the government had put in place a raft of measures to address food systems in Ghana.
The measures, Mr. Addo outlined, included enriching the environmental system through capacity building of farmers on climate-smart practices and building agricultural system resilience against climate and environmental threats.
"Strengthening food supply system by increasing local production of key staples, with focus on nutrition indigenous staples that have been neglected, enhancing the availability and accessibility of healthy food and promoting healthier eating habits amongst Ghanaians" he continued.
For his part, the president of GAAE, Prof. Daniel Bruce Sarpong, in his welcome address to the participants, noted that the fallout of global challenges such as the Russia-Ukraine war, COVID-19 pandemic, Middle East conflict, had necessitated the conference to explore more innovative ways towards sustainable food systems for job creation for the teeming unemployed youth and entrepreneurship in Africa.
- Prof. Daniel Bruce Sarpong, President of GAAE
He said African youth were getting very dependent due to the lack of sustainable jobs which had resulted in all manner of social vices.
To curb the canker, Prof Sarpong insisted that sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurship would improve the quality of life of the jobless youth, especially in rural areas where agriculture was critical.
The Provost of the College of Health and Allied Sciences, Prof. Martins Ekor, who chaired the conference, decried the high rate of food inflation in the country as a major setback for achieving food system sustainability.
He, therefore, asked policymakers to address the price hikes of foodstuffs because food inflation had a tremendous impact on human capital development.
"There is no way to have food systems if the price of food keeps soaring", he pointed out.
He said illegal mining was detrimental to achieving food system sustainability and implored the government to deal with the scourge.
"I don't think it is beyond the capability of the government of the day to deal with galamsey. It is either we stop galamsey or galamsey stops us as a nation," the provost bemoaned.
- Prof. Martins Ekor, Provost of the College of Health and Allied Sciences-UCC
Guests gracing the Conference included the Member of Parliament for Cape Coast North, Dr Kwamena Minta Nyarku; representative of the Central Regional Minister, Mr. Waxzy Mukaila who is the Central Regional Auditor; Dr Peter Boamah Otokunor, a member of faculty at the University of Professional Studies-Accra amongst and a former deputy minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Abraham Dwuma Odoom, amongst others.
Source: Documentation and Information Section-UCC