By Dana Drugmand
In a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute, former President of Ghana John Kufuor describes the incredible transformation his country underwent during the first decade of the new millennium. Under Kufuor’s presidency, the number of hungry people in Ghana was cut in half. The poverty rate, which had been at 51.7 percent in 1991, had shrunk to 26.5 percent in 2008. Ghana’s transformation over the past decade has made it one of the more politically stable countries in Africa, and, as Kufuor writes, Ghana has “made some of the greatest progress in reducing hunger, poverty, and malnutrition.”
President Kufuor serves schoolchildren in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo Credit: World Food Prize)
Kufuor, a recently announced recipient of the 2011 World Food Prize, served as Ghana’s democratically elected President from 2001-2009. In the opening of the report, titled “Ghana’s Transformation,” he writes, “When I became Ghana’s President in 2000, my country needed solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and a host of other problems.” Kufuor found agriculture to be a catalyst for these solutions. Agriculture is critical to Ghana’s economy, as some 60 percent of the country’s population depends directly on rural agriculture. Kufuor’s administration worked to harness an agriculture transformation to strengthen the nation’s economy.
Ghana is the world’s second largest exporter of cocoa, and under Kufuor’s administration, cocoa production in Ghana doubled from 2002-2005. The government helped educate cocoa farmers on best practices, and increased the farmers’ share of the international export price from 40 percent up to 70 percent as an incentive to increase production.
In addition to increasing crop yields, the government helped transform agriculture in Ghana by supporting irrigation, improved seeds and crop diversification, building feeder roads, silos, and cold stores for horticultural crops, and making tractors more affordable for farmers. The government also helped increase school enrollment by launching a program to give schoolchildren a daily hot, nutritious meal made from locally produced food.
In the end of the report, Kufuor highlights the need to empower farmers and fight widespread global hunger. “But in a world as technologically advanced as ours, widespread hunger is not justice. Farmers must be transformed by educating and empowering them…A healthy and happy future for mankind demands such farmers because food is the most basic of needs. It decides not just the health of individuals but also the health of communities.”
Dana Drugmand is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.