LAUNCH OF NATIONAL DIALOGUES ON FOOD SYSTEMS

The United Nations in Ghana statement at the launch of the National Food Systems Dialogues in Accra. 

It is a great honour and privilege to read this statement on behalf of the UN Resident Coordination who is not currently in the Country.

This launch marks the beginning of very important process in Ghana as we begin the national dialogues on our food systems that aim at starting a new way of thinking and sharing experiences and lessons to inform the transformation of our foods systems.

Ladies and gentlemen, in a couple months, we are going to have another global summit, convened by the United Nations.  The focus is on our food systems which is inextricably linked to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. This summit could not have come at a better time than this when all countries in the face of the Global pandemic (COVID 19) are making efforts to rebuild their economies and come back strongly.

The food system of a given country is a critical pillar in rebuilding but with stronger resilience. This is because food system affects everybody in the country through production, marketing and distribution, processing, retailing, storage and consumption.  Of course, through trade, a country’s food system also has global implications.  A strong and resilient food system is one that ensures that the population has access to adequate, affordable and nutritious food for all, all year round in the face of shocks.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are however aware of the staggering levels of inequality in terms of food access in recent times, exacerbated by COVID 19.  Five years into our collective agenda to end hunger by 2030, the FAO State of Food Security and Nutrition (SOFI, 2020) report on food and nutrition security once again confirmed the growing number of hungry populations worldwide.  The report estimates that almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019 - up by nearly 60 million in the last five years. What is more worrying is the high incidence of malnutrition due to high costs and low affordability of nutritious food for many households.

Ladies and gentlemen, the shift in global food systems and human dietary patterns is also a contributing factor to rising global malnutrition (specifically, obesity), exacerbating environmental degradation, and perpetuating social and economic inequities, particularly in urban and peri-urban cities in low and middle-income countries.

The big question for us all is how do we transition to healthier and sustainable diets that are accessible and affordable to all to enable us improve lives and sustain our planet?

I wish at this point to commend the Government of Ghana for prioritising food and nutrition security through several integrated programmes that are being implemented over the last couple of years.  The Planting and Rearing for Food and Jobs; aiming at increasing farmer productivity and overall incomes of farmers, the One-district-one-factory providing; an opportunity to increase value addition and create jobs, the one-village-one dam; to increase all year production; just to mention a few.  We continue to pledge our commitment and support to these programmes and look forward to building stronger partnership as we endeavour to rebuild the country’s food system.

I also wish to refer to the work of the Global Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement in Ghana for their effort to eliminate all forms of malnutrition, based on the principle that everyone has a right to food and good nutrition. It my hope that the Food Systems Summit will bolster your efforts. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the UN Food Systems Summit and the national dialogue processes provides us the opportunity to get stakeholders in the food value chain to discuss this question. It is an opportunity for us to identify the gaps, challenges and opportunities for transforming Ghana’s Food system, and devising the game changing strategies and ideas to fix the food system on a sustainable basis.

I wish to reiterate the point, that we have a collective responsibility to improve the food system, for our very lives depend on it.  The Government, the development community, private sector, research, civil society and consumers all have a role to play in improving the food system. 

It is therefore my cherished hope that the national dialogues will culminate in ground-breaking truths and pathways that will lead to improvement in the food systems of Ghana and contribute to a global sustainable food system that assures the achievement of SDG 2.

On this note I wish to thank the conveners for giving us the opportunity to make this statement and we look forward to fruitful engagements in the dialogues.

Thank you.

Speech by
Author
Salem, Hani Abdelkader Elsadani
Country Director
IFAD
IFAD Representative
UN entities involved in this initiative
FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
IFAD
International Fund for Agricultural Development
UNAIDS
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund
WFP
World Food Programme