Save Our Environment Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) based in Bechem in the Ahafo region with funding support from BUSAC FUND, has conducted a research to find out why caterers of the Ghana School Feeding Programme have not been purchasing foodstuffs from local farmers nationwide.
The study identified lack of adequate storage facilities as well as limited supervision and monitoring as major challenges militating against the smooth implementation of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) across the country. It further revealed late or irregular payment made by government to the caterers as a substantial disincentive for caterers to buy from the local farmers.
The situation according to the Executive Officer of Save Our Environment Foundation, Collins Osei, had paved way for several malpractices including refusal by caterers to purchase farm produce from local farmers as stipulated by law. At a stakeholder’s forum to in Sunyani, the Bono regional capital to discuss the research Mr. Osei urged government to buy farm produce from the local farmers, store and later sell them to the school feeding caterers in order to create ready market for the farmers. “We are today doing a sensitization programme with the people to let them know the outcomes of the research and take their views as well and then package and meet the duty bearers to discuss the problems and look at the way forward for the project” he explained.
The Consultant for the project, Samuel Cobinah, recommended an intensify campaign to get the caterers purchase their foodstuffs from the local farmers, to enable them gain incomes. “You realize that even some of the farmers were not aware of the policy that mandates them to give their farm produce to the caterers. So there should be sensitization and capacity building for the farmers, caterers and even the duty bearers themselves”. Mr. Cobinah stressed. He stated the problem of over paying the caterers would not arise again when the aforementioned was done and money would be in the pocket of the local farmers to build the local economy.
Wenchi Municipal Director of Agriculture, Victor Yao-Dablo, suggested that the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly’s should be made to pay the caterers so that monitoring and supervision will much more effective. He underscored the need to encourage peasant farmers to store their produce with the buffer stock storage system so that their wares could be used as a surety. “This would motivate the school feeding cooks to buy from the warehouse” Mr. Yao-Dablo noted.
Participants at the stakeholder’s forum to discuss the study that has unraveled the bottlenecks of the Ghana School Feeding Programme suggested a quick fixing of the challenges devoid of partisan politics.