The Canadian government has made available US$15 million in support of efforts at addressing stunting and micronutrient deficiencies among children, pregnant and nursing mothers in the country.
This is being done through an innovative project, launched by the World Food Propramme (WFP), linking smallholder farmers to local industrial private sector food processors, for the production of special fortified nutritious foods.
In excess of 77,000 people across five regions – Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Upper East, Upper West and Northern, would benefit from the five-year Enhanced Nutrition and Value Chain (ENVAC) project.
This comes against the backdrop of the huge cost to the economy due to child undernutrition. Ghana reportedly has been losing $2.4 billion through inadequate and poor nutrition for pregnant women and children under two years.
Ms. Tina Guthrie, Senior Director, Development, Canadian High Commission in Accra, speaking at the project’s launch in Kumasi, said her country recognized nutrition as indispensable to human development.
Providing nutritious food for the most vulnerable, she indicated, “is a cornerstone of poverty reduction effort”.
She underlined Canada’s strong conviction that Ghana’s thriving private sector could be increasingly harnessed as a driver for the nation’s socio-economic development.
“This project will strengthen the capacity of private producers and processors to increase their production, improve the quality of their products and expand their domestic and international market share”, she added.
Ms. Magdalena Owusu Moshi, Country Director of the WFP, said although Ghana had made gains in reducing malnutrition, a lot remained to be done.
She stated that, “aneamia and other micronutrient deficiencies continue to affect high percentages of children and women with dire consequences”.
“Focusing on child undernutrition, especially on providing adequate nutrition during the 1,000 day window of opportunity which is the critical period from conception till a child’s second birthday, impacts children’s health as well as the country’s economic and social development.”
She therefore asked that nutrition was made an urgent priority on the national development agenda.
Mr. Samuel Ntim, Chief Executive Officer of Yedent Agro Food Processing, applauded Canada, which through Global Affairs, Canada (formerly Canadian International Development Agency – CIDA), had shown strong commitment to the fight against malnutrition and food insecurity.
The project launch brought together officials and experts from the Food and Agriculture Ministry, Ghana Health Service, Food Research Institute, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Technoserve, Catholic Relief Services, Farm Radio International, Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and the Private Enterprises Foundation.