Ghana allays fears as UN warns global hunger could double due to Covid-19

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Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto

Agriculture officials in Ghana insist the country has enough food in stock, despite the surge of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the number of people facing food insecurity could nearly double to 265 million due to the economic fallouts of the outbreak.

An annual report released on Tuesday by the WFP and its partners found that food insecurity was already on the rise last year before the Coronavirus crisis.

The report found that 135 million people in 55 countries were in living in situations of acute food crises or outright humanitarian emergencies last year.

“Covid-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread,” said Arif Husain, chief economist and director of research, assessment and monitoring at the WFP.

Back in Ghana, many have expressed fears that the pandemic, coupled with its related restrictions in the country could lead to food insecurity and shortages.

General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Mr Edward Kareweh said Ghana may be hit with a food crisis if it does not deal with the issue of food shortages that is starring it in the face.

According to him, the country does not have a food stock to avert any possible famine that may occur should the covid-19 pandemic prolong.

“Very soon we will realise the reality as to whether they can release those stock for us to bring down the prices and also make the food available”, he said.

Certainly, Mr Kareweh added, “we are going to run into crisis if we are unable to deal with the situation immediately”.

But the sector minister at a press briefing on Thursday said the country has enough food that should clear any thought of a possible shortage in the country.

Although he was unable to state the period Ghana’s stock could last for, he said farmers in the country continue to produce enough, with the support of the government.

He said the country was producing in excess of its consumption capacity and that the challenge since 2018 has been how to manage the surpluses.

“In the few days before the lockdown, the instant hike in prices, and people falling over themselves in the market to get stocks to their homes. I did say after the lockdown that there is no need for it because we have plenty of food.

“The success of planting for food and jobs have been so instant that the problem that we are facing in this country since 2018 has been how do we manage the surplus because, on-farm the Ghanaian farmer has proven beyond doubt that with the right support from the government, they will deliver and they are delivering. They are providing surpluses which are increasing every year. That has been the in the last three years,” Mr. Afriyie-Akoto said.

The Minister further noted that Ghana has also been exporting to its neighbours in West African and plans to process some of the products to enable them last longer on shelves.

He said currently about 19 food items were being exported to countries such as Nigeria, Niger, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo and Mali.

“Ghana has suddenly become a food basket where we are sending about 19 different food items to a lot of our West Africa neighbours,” said.

Ghana has so far recorded 1,154 Covid-19 cases with nine deaths as at Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

 By Jonathan Ofori, Daily Mail GH | Email: joevica18@gmail.com

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