Friday, May 01, 2009

The effect of the global recession on Ghana

Ghana, the only country in Africa to have met the Millennium Development Goal on hunger is now seeing more people struggle to find food thanks to the global recession. The drop in exports and investments that the recession has caused are leaving more in Ghana vulnerable to going hungry.

From this IRIN story that we found at All Africa, the UN's Food and Agriculture Director comments on the situation.

"Ghana has shown that real progress against hunger, malnutrition and poverty can be achieved, through increased investment and diversity in agriculture, and better access to food," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf in a 23 April statement. "But Ghana will need greater support in identifying and helping the millions of people who remain food insecure and vulnerable."

"The economic crisis is already starting to affect people in Africa. The early impacts in Ghana are small, but they could get worse depending on how the situation evolves," Bauer said.

Price drops in cash crops such as shea nuts, export drops in some raw materials including timber, and remittance cuts could all contribute to people's increased vulnerability to food insecurity, says WFP.

But chief director at the Agriculture Ministry, Dr. Nurah Gyiele, said Ghanaians are "safe" from food insecurity this year. "I do not anticipate any clear and present danger on any significant scale in terms of food shortages because we still have maize stocks on the market," he said. "And there is no shortage in any of the other crops [rice, yams, cassava]...we can say that this year we are safe and even if there is a challenge we will be up to it."

The government has placed 900 metric tons of emergency rice and maize stocks in the regions where people are most prone to food insecurity: Northern Region, Upper East and Upper West, and plans to provide a further 900 mt over the course of 2009 as well as stocking the 10 regional capitals, according to Gyiele.

But some subsistence farmers in the north say they are already struggling to get by.

"The price of everything has gone up," said John Akarebo, shea nut farmer and father of six, in Northern region. "I spend about 80 percent of my earnings feeding the family. It is very difficult. If it were not for the government's policy to make basic education free, my children's education would be threatened."

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