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Election 2012 And Manifestos For Food Security (Part I)   
 
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10-Oct-2012  
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In December 2012 Ghanaians will go to the polls to choose a government that they believe will improve their lives. The political campaigns are in full swing and both the main parties, the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP), have recently released their Manifestos.

Food Security is a major global and national concern, and the question is to what extent this issue has been addressed by the parties and what “weight” the subject received in the prospective Manifestos.

Food Security Ghana (FSG) reviewed the Manifestos of both the NDC and NPP to get an idea of what the parties have to offer in terms of food security for Ghanaians.


FORWARDS BY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

The forward by the prospective Presidential Candidates normally gives an indication of where the hopeful leaders see the challenges and subsequent solutions that they will offer to Ghanaians.

President John Dramani Mahama (Mahama) touched on the subject by stating that the solid foundation the NDC has provided must be advanced so that the nation can feed itself.

In his forward Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (Akufo-Addo) stated that the NPP will “modernise agriculture and ensure that we double the numbers of farmers who have access to farming inputs, improved seedlings and fertilizer in my term of office.”

In our opinion both leaders showed a total lack of grasping the most important issue of the day, namely food security. While Mahama’s statement slanted towards food self-sufficiency instead of food security, Akufo-Addo focused on the supply side ignoring the demand side.


MENTIONING "FOOD SECURITY"

Another “acid test” was to see how many times “food security” was mentioned in the respective Manifestos.

In the NDC Manifesto FSG found three references to the concept while we found two in the NPP Manifesto.

More important is to look at the context in which “food security” was mentioned.

The NDC Manifesto mentioned that its 2008 Manifesto promised to “accelerate agricultural modernization and the transformation of the rural economy … to quicken the pace towards full domestic food security.”

It is difficult to interpret this statement, but once again it seems as if it leans towards food self-sufficiency instead of food security.

The second mention referred to “the promotion of selected crops for food security and exports.” This again refers to food self-sufficiency that is not always compatible with the definition of food security.

The third reference was made in the section about public service delivery and the claim is that the NDC achieved its 2008 promise by attaining “sustainable food security” through improved production, processing, storage and distribution. This is indeed a statement that is wide open to criticism and debate.

The NPP Manifesto incorporated food security as part of one of their main platforms, namely section 7, “Modernising Our Agriculture and Ensuring Food Security”.

The next mention of food security by the NPP was made with reference to this section stating “we will support a number of private sector change agents in large-scale commercial farming whilst assisting small holders to adopt modern techniques and practises. The objective will be to ensure food security...

This statement sounds solid but once again does not incorporate the real essence of what food security is all about.

In another reference to food security the NPP Manifesto states that, “ … as indicated by the Ministry for Food and Agriculture and AGRA, Ghana faces increasing food security challenges in the near future. This is due to the pervasively fragmented value chain, inefficiency and obsolete farming techniques and equipment in the sector.”

The acknowledgement by the NPP Manifesto that Ghana indeed faces food security challenges is refreshing, but the reasons provided for these challenges once again ignores what food security is all about. It again focus on the supply side and totally ignores the demand side - the needs, wants and preferences of all Ghanaian consumers.

Having reviewed the Manifestos FSG once again states that there is no clear understanding by either party of what food security is really about.


AGRICULTURE AND THE SUPPLY OF FOOD

The NDC has a section “Agricultural Modernization” while the NPP deals with the issue under the heading of “Modernising Our Agriculture and Ensuring Food Security”.

Both parties delved into various issues regarding the production and supply of food and we will not deal with all items in detail.

The approach by the two parties were quite different. While the NPP did quite a good analysis of the problems that the sector faces, the incumbent party made claims of successes.

One of the claims was that “Ghana became self-sufficient in food production in 2010 and 2011 as total food production exceeded national demand.” This is of course not true as we all know that local supply could only cater for 30% of local demand both with regards to rice and poultry.

Another claim was that Rice output doubled from the 2008 level in 2011 resulting in a corresponding 50% reduction In rice Imports - yet another claim that is not true as proven by agricultural statistics.

The solutions proposed by the NDC was summed up as follows, “The accelerated modernization of the agriculture sector is one of the major pillars in our economic transformation agenda. It will be propelled by two main strategies.

The first involves the implementation of the Food and Agricultural Sector Development Policy (FASDEP) II and the corresponding investment plan as detailed in the Medium-Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP)
.”

In a previous article, FSG questioned the effectiveness of FASDEP II (a policy devised by the NPP in 2007) as it has failed to deliver on its objective of 6% growth in 2011. The NDC however does not mention that the policy will be reviewed in the light of its failure and the question is if this will mean that the government will keep on barking up the wrong tree?

The NDC further touched on the issue of “demonstration farms” as part of the National Service Scheme to entice the youth to enter into agriculture as a career.

The NPP summed up their approach to agriculture as follow, “We will target development in all four of Ghana’s breadbaskets to enhance productivity and production in selected food crops (maize and rice) and high value cash crops (horticultural products). We shall adapt the integrated approach to the agricultural sector that we proposed and was executed under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) project. This integrated approach recognizes that the transversal interventions or key constraints affecting the sector will have to be tackled simultaneously to produce a sustained result.”

It further dealt succinctly with specific interventions including Smallholder Farmers, Commercial Agriculture, Access to Land for Agriculture, Finance, Infrastructure, Research and Extension Services, Agro Processing, Mechanisation, Education, Research and Technology Development and Input Support.

They further addressed the fisheries sub-sector and the poultry industry in more detail.

Having read both parties’ supply-side “solutions” one gets the feeling that the NDC has not really gotten to grips with the problems of the sector and plans to continue on a road that has not produced the necessary results. The analysis and areas of intervention as spelled out by the NPP gives a much clearer and crisp overview of what needs to be done.

One thing that is glaring is that neither party has addressed the demand side of food security and the plight of millions of Ghanaians struggling to afford food.

In addition it is a big disappointment that neither party looked at food security from a framework of what it is really all about, namely availability, affordability and nutrition according to the preferences of Ghanaians.

In the next Part we will look specifically at issues that were not addressed and should, according to FSG, have been addressed.

The Manifestos can be downloaded from the FSG site at http://foodsecurityghana.com/?p=5055

 
 
Source: Food Security Ghana
 
 

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