Boosting domestic food production is the third immediate objective of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP). The Agriculture Unit exist to champion this noble objective. The Unit is cardinal to attaining the programmes long term goal of contributing to poverty reduction and food security in Ghana. The agricultural component of the programme exists to support development of smallholder farmers’ capacity to produce and to link caterers to farmers and farmer groups.
Conceptually, the programme advocates procurement of 80% of foodstuffs from local sources believing that, feeding school children with locally prepared food; helping rural communities to generate wealth through improved incomes from the ready and secured market [offered by GSFP] for their farm produce will break the cycle of rural household and community poverty. As farmers find ready market for their produce, they will be motivated to increase production and productivity.
Presently, 268 Farmer Based Organizations, Agric. Extension Officers have been sensitized and trained on the GSFP regarding how they can link up farmers and caterers. Farmers are also encouraged to produce for the GSFP caterers. This guaranteed market for farmers’ produce has a great potential in reducing Ghana’s high post harvests losses, a problem attributed among others to lack of ready market. The GSFP’s Agriculture Model Project is the current focus of the Unit. This project is expected to boost smallholder farmers’ production levels as well as linkage with caterers.
School Health and Nutrition
The burden of childhood malnutrition has become an issue of public health concern. Early in life (during childhood and adolescent years), adequate nutrition is essential for growth, development, health and well-being. This is important for enabling a child to reach his/her potential for physical, mental growth and development. Research has shown that under nutrition during early years impairs children’s cognitive development as well as their ability to explore their environments. Malnutrition includes under and over nutrition deficiencies such as obesity, stunting, and wasting.
The prevalence of stunting in Ghana by region is 14 percent in Greater Accra, 38% in the Central and 36 percent in the Upper East region where wasting levels of children is common (Ghana demographic health survey (GDHS) report, 2008). The report further disclosed that whiles 9 percent of all children under five in Ghana are wasted, 2 percent of the nine are severely wasted. Moreover, 14 percent of Ghanaian children are underweight, with 3% alone classified as severely underweight.
Specifically, poor children are more likely to be undernourished and in poor health, with deleterious effects on school attendance and academic achievement. Therefore schools are often used as sites for the institution of interventions because children build eating habits through school meals to either correct or worsen nutrient deficiencies. It is upon this premise that governments, programmes, and projects use School Feeding as a safety net to prevent or reduce the long-term effects of malnutrition that burdens Ghanaian children. The Health and Nutrition Outfit of the Operations Department is set out to follow up and address all issues related to health and nutrition of the programme