The World Food Programme (WFP) has provided equipment and funds worth GH¢1 million to facilitate the assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security and food prices in Ghana.
The items, which is to support the Statistics, Research and Information Directorate of Ministry of Food and Agriculture (SRID-MOFA) includes 12 pieces of laptops, 64phones/tablets, 12 MIFIs/internet modems, 76 sets of PPEs, a video conferencing facility; television set with internet subscription and cloud server subscription for one year.
The results of the price data among other things will inform the nation’s price trend and will measure the level of food security, which would help provide mitigating measures against food shortage in the country.
Madam Rukia Yacoub, WFP Representative and Country Director in Ghana, in presenting the equipment to SRID, said the gesture was to enable the Ministry to rapidly assess the trends of food availability and its prices in the Ghanaian Market.
She said the assessment would help the Ministry and WFP know what was happening and inform social protection and other measures, which were being taken to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable.
Madam Rukia stated that several people’s income had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and that despite the increase in food production as a result of the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative, there was a lot of concern about people’s ability to buy the food they need for themselves and their families.
The support, she said, would enable enumerators to collect as much information as possible remotely and reducing human contact, which explained was in line with the recommended COVID-19 preventive measures.
Madam Rukia stated that funding had also been provided to enable enumerators to drive to selected markets and districts occasionally, in order to verify the information they receive.
She indicated that the information that would be gathered would be used to develop monthly food security bulletins, which she said would be disseminated to partners in the food security and nutrition sector, in response to the numerous requests for information since the onset of COVID-19 in Ghana.
“Apart from this rapid assessment, WFP and other partners are planning to support the Ministry to undertake a nationwide comprehensive food security and vulnerability analysis which will provide more details on who the food insecure are, why they are food insecure where they live”, she said.
She added that the result of the assessment could be used to inform policymakers and prioritisation of resource allocation.
Mr Partrick Robert Ankobiah, Chief Director of Finance and Administration Directorate (F&A), who received the equipment on behalf of the Minister of Food and Agriculture commended the WFP for their thoughtful support.
He said, WFP had been Ghana’s strong supporter in for many years and that the significance of the support items provided was huge to the economic enhancement of the country.
Mr Ankobiah noted that data had become an important part of the management of agriculture in the country and that without which they could not do much.
He said the provision the new technological equipment would help provide reliable data for the country.
Mr Ankobiah stated that the Covid-19 pandemic was having negative effects on economies around the world adding that there was the need for stakeholders to look inward and focus on food production in the country to ensure that the country was insulated from such challenges.
Mr Harrison G. Opoku, Director of SRID said the items provided to them were going to help the Ministry track prices of various food items in the country.
He said the MOFA had selected 32 districts across the country to carry out the pilot project of the assessment of food security and food prices.
Mr Harrison said they were going to use the equipment to remotely collect data from the field which he said will enable them to observe the social distancing protocol whilst doing their job.
He stated that the project would run by one year and that they were going to train their officers in the various districts to be able to collect good data.
Mr Harrison said the country was divided into three zones, which include the Northern Zone, Central (Middle) Zone and Greater Accra Zone for the data collection on food security and prices.