Food affordability in Accra, Ghana
Felix Nyamedor, Accra City Community Manager
The food security situation in Accra is a major concern to the government, civil society organisations, and development partners. Food security covers availability, accessibility, ultilisation, production, and affordability of food as classified by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This article looks specifically at food affordability in Accra, as the price of food poses problems to more than half of the city's population.
Though Accra is a coastal city, the limited production of crops and fishing provides for only a quarter of the population, so the city depends on transported food from the outskirts of Ghana. The cost of transporting food has raised the cost of food so much that the average person in Accra finds it difficult to eat a balanced three square meals a day. Over-fishing has resulted in dwindling catches that fail to meet residents' protein needs. The large youth population causes a high dependency ratio, which increases the average household expenditure on food. Many former farmers are those who migrated to Accra, increasing the demand for food in the city while also reducing available labour for food production in the countryside. Climate change and over-dependence on rain irrigation are other significant contributors to the food production, and therefore affordability challenges.
The current depreciation of the Ghanaian Cedi compared to other major currencies has worsened the price index of imported foods. Prices of imported foods like sardines, rice, and oil have increased more than 10 percent in the beginning of 2014 alone. There is therefore the need to increase local production of food while limiting imports.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly are working to ensure that opportunities are created for actors along the production-to-marketing chain of food production. This is done through trainings on processing techniques of perishable food items to help reduce post-harvest losses in rural areas for transportation to the cities. The livestock industry is promoted through the Livestock Development Project to avail quality and affordable meat products for consumption to meet residents' protein needs and to help promote home gardening in the metropolis to augment household needs. The government of Ghana also developed a motivation package with the Youth In Agriculture programme to motivate young people to counteract the ageing farmer population in order to facilitate sustainability in agriculture production. The average age of farmers in Ghana is 55 years old, and life expectancy averages between 55 and 60 years. The program also aims to promote urban food production through technological innovations. The challenge of this policy has been its implementation.
One organisation that is also promoting urban agriculture and the affordability of quality agriculture produce for urban residents is the Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security, the RUAF Foundation. The RUAF Foundation provides crops and vegetable sales points called CitiVeg points all across the city for easy accessibility and affordability.
Moreover, the FAO in Ghana is helping provide technical support to promote urban agriculture and ensure the availability of quality and affordability food to meet the MDG targets on food security for Ghana.
Photo credit: GNA