Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has condemned the importation of substandard rice, particularly from Asia into African markets.
The substandard rice, which are imported into the country, have in recent times become the preferred staple of most Ghanaians.
Addressing participants at a three-day West African Alliance Against Hunger and malnutrition conference, ex-President Kufour, the 2011 World Food laureate said, “Poor quality rice from Asia is dumped in Africa and this is forcing down the price of our home-grown crop.”
He noted African countries had been forced to import food from outside the continent “but too often this food is itself of dubious nutritional quality.”
The West African Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition (AAHM) conference themed, “Uniting West Africa Against Hunger and Malnutrition,” is expected to build policy dialogue in the fight against hunger and malnutrition and help achieve the Millennium development Goals (MDGs).
Ghana’s former president said the rising cost of food items is likely to increase the number of hungry people across the world.
Yet there are many more people who have to depend on poor quality food and this has a devastating effect on their health.
“So ladies and gentlemen, the challenges you are attempting to address today by harmonizing agriculture policies in the fight against poverty in West African are crucial and formidable,” said Mr Kufuor.
“They are not just about survival or fairness but are at the heart of hopes for long term social and economic development for our people.”
Fernando Salina, Senior Forestry Officer of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), sub-regional officer for West Africa, noted that “even though the sub-region was making strides in food sufficiency and food security there is still more to be done as we come close to the 2015 deadline for the attainment of the MDGs.”
As a result, he said it is essential to find a lasting solution to the problems that give rise to the persistence of hunger and poverty in the sub-region.
“This can only be achieved through a concerted effort of all stakeholders in the agricultural and related sectors.”
Kwesi Awoi, Ghana’s Minister of food and Agriculture stated that government was putting in place measures to ensure food security.
He mentioned that a medium term Agricultural Sector Investment Plan, which has been developed to ensure food security, income growth, market access, sustainable land management, applied science and technology.
He said Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is expected to increase by six percent per annum and government plans to allocate at least 10 per cent of its expenditure to the agriculture sector.
He urged the participants to come up with a structure that would enable the national alliances play useful role in the current agricultural and food security reforms.
Source: Emelia Ennin Abbey & Mary Asabea Ansah
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