The risk of common natural phenomena which impede food production in the sub-region has prompted the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the World Bank Group to coordinate efforts among member nations to strengthen food system risk management in the sub-region.
The common natural phenomena include the likes of floods, droughts, the spread of pests and livestock diseases.
This is being carried out across the region, through the West Africa Food System Resilience Programme [FSRP], with the development objective to increase preparedness against food insecurity and build resilience of food systems in participating countries.
In line with this, FSRP, which in Ghana, is being driven through the Ministry of Food & Agriculture, will roll out a combination of adaptive, innovative and sustainable interventions that will arm vulnerable households, families, farmers and communities to withstand uncertainty and shocks in food production and supply in the sub-region.
Phase One of the programme covers Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Togo, while Phase Two covers Chad, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
The implementation network involves three other regional institutions: The ECOWAS, the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), and the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF). Locally, it involves notable state agencies in the agricultural value chain (from soil to sale to soup).
The national (local) level implementing partners of FSRP include Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA), Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and agencies within it; and Ghana Meteorological Authority (GMet).
The programme aims to strengthen national capacity to provide demand-driven digital advisory services, consolidate the regional agricultural innovation system and strengthen regional food security through integrated landscape management and expanding food trade in West Africa to enable effective distribution of surplus produce to deficit regions.
This is in recognition of the fact that the agriculture sector currently employs close to 40 per cent of the population, contributing about 20 per cent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Under the sub-regional arrangement, Ghana is focusing on rice, maize, soya beans and poultry, with primary concentration on 55 districts within 10 regions in the Upper Volta Basin, the Middle Belt and the Lower Volta Basin.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture believes that the FSRP will complement the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs Phase Two (PFJ.2) and create more job opportunities in the agricultural value chains.
For the Programme Coordinator, Osei Owusu-Agyeman, the joy of the FSRP was the targeting of a total of 300,000 direct beneficiaries out of which 40 per cent were expected to be women.
The exciting thing about the programme is the fact that some already existing institutions, including the Genetic Resources Research Institute at Bunsu and the Veterinary Labs to provide technical background support to the farmers, would receive a facelift.
Also to benefit are 20 weather stations, which would be established in addition to what GMet already has, to provide timely weather reports to farmers.