Twelve African countries are meeting in Accra to discuss strategies, share experience and draft a road map towards a successful implementation of the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) Home-Grown School Feeding Programme in member states.

Over 70 participants from countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Malawi are attending the two-day Consultative Meeting jointly.

It was organised by the World Food Programme (WFP) and NEPAD to discuss ways of establishing new alliances and financial partnership with development partners and donor agencies.

Opening the meeting in Accra on Thursday, Mr. Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment said it was unfortunate that Africa remained under-developed despite the numerous natural resources.

He said to reverse the trend, the Government of Ghana had identified education and human resource development as crucial addressing economic challenges such as poverty, ignorance and diseases.

Mr. Adjei-Darko said it was in that light that Ghana had adopted the School Feeding Programme to encourage more children to enroll in school and at the same time boost the agriculture sector.

The Minister noted that using agriculture produce of local farmers was, therefore, to ensure ready market for farmers and to help improve their income to reduce household poverty in rural communities was commendable.

He said the Programme would not be to the advantage of the educational sector alone but in the promotion of child health to reduce malnutrition, child mortality rates as well as other diseases that retard the growth and development of children.

He noted that supporting local farmers would also help avoid post harvest losses to ensure food security, eradicate hunger and poverty, which were threats to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Mr. Adjei-Darko called for inter-sectoral collaboration among all implementing agencies, adding, ” We need to forge ahead despite all threats, because the benefit of this Programme was enormous”.

Sharing Ghana’s experience on the Programme, Dr. Kwame Amoako Tuffour, Executive Chairman for the Ghana School Feeding Programme, said Ghana was supporting some industries to venture into the agro-processing industry to provide ready market for locally produced food items and meet demands of the Programme.

He said the country was also supporting rice farmers and millers to enable them meet the demands and help cut down on foreign exchange on the importation of rice.

He stated that the Secretariat in collaboration with the Ministry of Health had also introduced a periodic deworming exercise for children and provided mosquito nets to prevent malaria.

The Executive Chairman said the Secretariat was also ensuring the provision of portable water to rural communities and encouraging school farming so that children could plant their own fruits and vegetables to meet nutritional requirements.

He said government also hoped to establish a Trust Fund to provide the needed resources for the project.

Dr. Amoako called for direct assistance from donor agencies and development partners in the area of research development, finance and monitoring.

He stated that there was also the need for legislations, plans and programmes to sensitize farmers on best practices and to encourage the youth to develop interest in the agriculture sector.

Mr. Roland Sibanda, Word Food Programme Liaison Director to the African Union and Economic Commission for Africa, called on governments to ensure full implementation of the Programme.

He said governments should not only concentrate on funding from international community but also rely on local resources first.

Mr. Sibanda said Ghana was a leader in the African Unity and should therefore, lead the campaign to ensure success.

The NEPAD Home Grown School Feeding Programme is an initiative to provide meals to pupils to increase school enrolment and promote child nutritional needs by purchasing locally produced food to boost the African agriculture sector as well.

Source: GNA


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