Researchers recommend strengthening Ghana’s local food systems

By Albert Futukpor

Tamale, July 31, GNA – A team of researchers from local and international universities has recommended strengthening local food systems to help tackle the country’s (Ghana) food security challenges.

The team underscored the need for the country to support small-scale farming and preserve traditional, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods for the benefit of the population.

These formed part of the recommendations of a research conducted by the team, which focused on local food systems and their role in shaping food security outcomes, in Tamale.

The research highlighted the impact of the globalisation of local food systems wherein the availability and affordability of processed foods had increased.

It argued that while this phenomenon provided cheaper and more accessible food options, it also contributed to challenges related to nutrition, culture, and socio-economic disparities.

The research team was led by Dr Siera Vercillo, an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto in Canada, in collaboration with Dr Jasper Abembia Ayleazuno from the University for Development Studies, Dr Jayeeta Sharma from the University of Toronto, and Dr Cameron McCormick from the University of Waterloo.

The findings and recommendations of the research were presented at a meeting in Tamale, dubbed: “Connecting Rural to Urban Food System Stakeholders in Ghana for Food Sovereignty.”

The stakeholders’ meeting served as a platform to disseminate the research findings and engage key actors in the food system.

Representatives from government agencies, non-governmental organisations, local farming communities, academic institutions, and international partners participated in the meeting, and engaged in discussions about the research and its implications for the country’s food security.

Dr Vercillo, in her recommendations as part of the research, underscored the need for the country to invest more in small-scale farming, empowering local communities, and fostering sustainable food systems.

She said, “By investing in small-scale farming practices and providing necessary resources and training, Ghana can enhance its food production capacity and reduce its reliance on imported foods.”

Ghana, like many countries in the Global South, is witnessing a troubling trend of dietary transitions.

As the nation urbanizes, food and nutrition insecurity deepens leading to a shift from hunger to nutrition-related diseases.

Chronic diseases associated with diets such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues are becoming significant public health concerns accounting for a substantial portion of deaths.

This paradoxical situation demands urgent attention to understand the causes and consequences of transitioning diets, hence the research.

The researchers advocated a shift in national and municipal food policies to promote more socially and spatially equitable food systems and healthier food options.

They said, “This shift includes regulating the promotion of imported and processed foods while preserving and promoting traditional food products that align with Ghana’s rich cultural heritage.”