The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has noted in a report on the coronavirus pandemic that about 2million people are vulnerable to become food insecure in Ghana if COVID-19 disrupts planting season for 2020.
The report which was published on Saturday 16th May said: “About 1.5 million people in Ghana (approximately 5% of population) are food insecure and 2 million people are vulnerable to become food insecure if COVID disrupts planting season for 2020. Planting has commenced and 60% of farmers demand for seeds and fertilizer is secured.”
The report further noted that although the partial lockdown has been lifted and no restrictions on persons and goods to allow businesses including agri-business to go on, land borders with neighbouring countries (Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso) remained closed.
Regarding the interventions by government of Ghana, ARA said there has been “fiscal and monetary policy incentives to Commercial Banks to increase supply of credit to private sector – US$120m credit scheme to support SMEs US$ 100m COVID-19, Social Protection Fund Facilitate access of 1million smallholder farmers to seed and fertilizer for the 2020 planting season @ 50% subsidy, Develop new lands under irrigation and inland valleys for rice production.”
AGRA said it is leading a campaign to mobilize support for the 2020 planting season in Ghana, provide PPEs to support the work of agriculture front line staff reach out to farmers, Facilitate farmer access to private sector driven input and out markets, and digital payment system: Facilitate Area yield insurance for 10,000 farmers- bundle agro-input with insurance Digital extension service through SMS messaging, Radio, videos etc are being introduced and adopted.
The organisation also noted that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak is gradually leading to food insecurity on the Africa continent.
The measures introduced by governments which include restrictions on movement of person, to deal with the COVID-19, are affecting the ability of farmers to harvest and sell their produce, AGRA also noted.
In Ethiopia for example, the government has projected that food production in the upcoming season could be lower by 8% due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Government-mandated restrictions around the movement of people and the need for social distancing continues to pose challenges for farmers, especially in Southern Africa, where countries are in the harvest season and workers must gather for harvesting, cleaning and packing crops for transport.
“To address these challenges, some farmers and traders are using social media and farm-based sales to bridge production and market gaps during the pandemic.
“Kenya is leading the way in these efforts. Post-harvest training, which help farmers meeting international quality standards, are being conducted via digital platforms through village-based organizations.
“In Rwanda, AGRA has partnered with others to expand mechanization so as to reduce manual labour requirements and thus enable social distancing,” a statement said.
The statement added: “In East Africa, farmers are still feeling the impact from locust invasions, while eradication efforts continue. Ongoing flood conditions in Kenya and Uganda are shortening the planting season.
“However, the high rainfalls have also created an opportunity for “dry season” crops using the abundant residual moisture. In Southern Africa, recurring climate shocks are significantly contributing to reduced food production and driving staple food prices up.”
The UN has increased its original appeal for COVID-19 response funds from $2 billion in mid-March to $6.7 billion in mid-May, as humanitarian experts have noted acceleration of the food insecurity crisis.
David Beasely, Executive Director of the World Food Programme warned in April “I was already saying that 2020 would be the worst year since the second world war” Already, the COVID-19 pandemic, has “taken us to uncharted territory”, he said. “Now …. We are looking at widespread famines of biblical proportions.”