If there’s anything we can collectively agree on as a lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that food insecurity is the fear of every living Ghanaian. From the wealthy to the street hustler, everyone loves to be in a position where they are assured of their next meal.
For some, it is a formality. But for too many others, there’s always the possibility of them having no access to food — even if they could normally afford to buy — because they have been priced out by the traders, due to a high demand. Food insecurity is real, and if what happened in Accra is anything to go by, then, it calls into question our preparedness as a nation to endure seasons of prolonged drought.
This is why the current government’s ‘1 Village, 1 Dam’ (1V1D) and ‘planting for food and jobs’ initiatives shouldn’t be treated as a party promise that can be defaulted on. In fact, they should both be a national agenda to be developed further regardless of which party forms the government.
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Climate change and food insecurity
1 Village, 1 Dam (1V1D)
With the changing weather patterns being experienced nationwide, it is becoming clear that relying on rainfall to irrigate farms is a risky venture going forward. All over the world, alternative options are being employed to keep farms irrigated so the crop doesn’t die from drought. For the Northern regions of Ghana, this is where the 1V1D comes in; to store water for use during the dryer months.
As important as this is, people choose to play petty games with it; where maintenance is not being done, people keep quiet because of political expediency. This shouldn’t be regarded as an initiative that only benefits the Northern regions. Because once we think like that, we lose sight of how this affects us all.
Planting for food and jobs (PFJ)
Ghana isn’t an industrial exports country. It is better known for mineral and agricultural exports; and with the latter, it has been falling behind for some time now. Planting for food and jobs is an initiative that when taken seriously, would attract the youth — who are bent on doing anything to travel out of the country — to stay and turn to agriculture instead.
Three modules of the program interest me the most;
- Food security crops: Consists of staples such as maize, rice, cassava, plantain and orange flesh sweet potato, sorghum and soybean. Also, vegetable crops like onion, tomato, pepper, groundnut, cabbage, carrots, etc.
- Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD). And
- Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ).
My interest in these is because they present the young farmer with the most immediate assurance that their efforts in the field can translate into tangible economic and commercial results for them. With small and medium scale industries experiencing growth — especially as more people consider entrepreneurship to be an alternative to regular blue collar jobs, there is every indication that the agricultural sector of Ghana’s economy can rise to the occasion and be a vibrant force.
These two government initiatives should be looked at devoid of political ‘loyalty’; whereby one sees the wrong being done and says nothing to improve on the situation. Because in the end, when food prices rise astronomically, you may have your money ready to buy but be denied because you’ve either been priced out, or someone just doesn’t like you enough to want to sell to you.
1 Village 1 Dam, together with Planting for Food and Jobs is the one guarantee against food insecurity that can get the youth employed while playing their part. Life would certainly go on after COVID-19, and we shouldn’t return to doing things ‘as usual’.