Food Production in Ghana: Peasant Farmers get a boost

Accra,- Poor policies, low interest loans, poor access to farmlands and markets are still hampering Ghana’s food and agricultural production, especially among peasant farmers.

 

Other issues like climate change, quality seeds, postharvest losses, agricultural infrastructure development like roads and irrigation services, as well as the quality of public investment, low technology adoption and weakness in extension services, all continue to drag down producers in the food value chain.

 

The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), has therefore, collaborated with the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, to partner three Universities in Ghana, to engage early career researchers and agriculture activists on ways to address the challenges and boost food production in the country.

 

The, three universities, namely, the University of Cape Coast, University of Development Studies, Tamale, and the University of Ghana, are partnering the PFAG to organise a week long training workshop that opened in Accra on the “Political Economy of Food and Agriculture” for close to 30 participants selected across the country.

 

Dr Charles Kwowe Nyaaba, Head of Programmes and Advocacy, PFAG, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that the issue of food and agriculture production had been a global concern because of increasing populations, which needed to be given much attention.

 

He said, PFAG, having realised that agriculture production was low and that policies of food and agriculture were being made without getting inputs from the peasant farmers while researchers also conducted researches without connecting the issues with farmers, decided to together with the four universities, design an innovative approach to making policy recommendation by connecting activists with researchers to give them the training to understand the political economy of food and agriculture.

 

“By the end of the training, what we want to do is to select some few of the activists and the early career researchers, to do a joint research that will consider the factors that are going to be explained here in terms of the agrarian economy, history of the peasant, the capitalist approach to things, among others.

 

So if they understand this, together with the activists, they will be able to design methodology that will actually consider the inputs of the real issues of the farmers and come out with research findings that will make informed recommendation to policy makers and address the real concerns of farmers’ Dr Nyaaba said.

 

He said after the week’s training, a number of the participants would be selected to partner the lead researchers to collect data on the field that to be used to engage policy makers, towards the improvement of food production in the country.

 

Madam Victoria Adongo, Executive Director, PFAG, said the plight of peasant farmers now who were earlier called subsistence farmers, although not the best, had improved over the years, due to the various advocacies and support provided by food activists including her organisation and Oxfam.

 

She said from the day of the Structural Adjustment Programme introduced in the early 1980s by the state, the small holder farmers had continued to live below the poverty line because of the many factors militating against their livelihood.

 

She said thankfully, various collaborations with national and international partners were yielding favourable results and improving the lot of farmers, adding that the ongoing workshop would be a booster to food security.

 

Professor Anne Tallontire, University of Leeds, Project Principal Investigator, said her institution was collaborating with PFAG under the “Farmers perspectives on Challenges in the food system”: a Collaborative research partnership with Ghana and Tanzania.

 

She said the training would help articulate the voices of peasant farmers in research, as well as getting participants to understand issues from the critical political and economic perspectives.

 

“Together, we will nurture the next generation of Ghanaian and Tanzania food and farming scholars and experts using tools for applied food systems research on topics that matter for farmers’ organisation. We will support them in delivering pilot project co-designed with the farmers organisations, ”she said.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

SSNIT OBS Scandal: Court to decide on mode of trial on December 16

Accra,- An Accra High Court will on December 16, rule on whether to allow the State to use witness statements as evidence in chief in the GHC 66 million SSNIT Operational Business Suite (OBS) trial.

 

This was after the State and defense counsels in the matter had made varied submissions in the mode of trial.

 

The prosecution, which is expected to call 10 witnesses to make up their case, prayed the court to allow the State to use witness statements as evidence in chief.

 

According to the prosecution, they would be relying on their witness statements and some documents would also be tendered through the witnesses.

 

The State, led by Mr Richard Gyambiby, Principal State Attorney (PSA), argued that no harm would occur to the accused persons if witness statements were allowed as evidence in chief.

 

According to Mr Gyambiby, it would be a complete waste of time for the witnesses to come and state what they had written and that it would defeat the objectives of fair trial, which the court was supposed to uphold.

 

The PSA said the Practice Direction of the Courts only acted as a guideline, therefore, a judge considering a matter could use his or discretion in favour of a fair trial.

 

 

 

Citing Section 69 of the Evidence Act, (the Evidence Act of 1975) Mr Gyambiby, said it lay in the bosom of the judge to order the mode, manner and order of how a trial should be done or conducted.

 

The prosecution said the overriding objective of a criminal trial was to ensure efficient and expeditious trial, noting that the accused persons’ lawyers had not been able to tell the court they would suffer any miscarriage of justice.

 

The accused persons indicted in the SSNIT $66million scandal are: Mr. Thompson, John Hagan Mensah, former Information Manager of SSNIT, Juliet Hassan Kramer, Chief Executive Officer of Perfect Business Consult, Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, former Head of Management Information Systems, SSNIT and Peter Hayibor, a lawyer at SSNIT.

 

Two out of five Defence counsels have indicated to the court that they would be calling defense witnesses.

 

The lawyers of the accused persons had variously submitted that prosecution witnesses should be made to mount the witness box so their demeanour would be ascertained.

 

Mr Abednego Tettteh Mensah, who represented Ernest Thompson, said: “We want the witnesses to come into the box so we can look at their demeanour.”

 

Mr Mohayideen contended that what was stated in the Practice Direction was subject to agreement by both defense counsels and prosecution.

 

He was of the view that the accused persons needed to be given all they needed to defend themselves.

 

In the case of Paa Kwasi Abaidoo, who represented Caleb Kweku Afaglo, ex- head of Management Information Systems, SSNIT, he wanted to see one Mary Negetey, a prosecution witness, who at all material times, was a subordinate of a superior who dealt with his client.

 

According to Mr Abaidoo, his client never dealt with Ms Negatey and said, “we want to see her and confront her with some of the things she had stated on paper.”

 

Meanwhile prosecution has informed the court during case management conference that it had provided defense counsel with two set of documents that they had requested

 

Prosecution said the State had filed the two sets of documents on November 24 and 26, this year.

 

Mr Gyambiby said documents number 23 on the motion paper -SSNIT Board Minutes on April 20, 2014, being requested by the defense counsel, did not exist.

 

“We inform the court that there was no such meeting on such date.”

 

The five accused persons are being tried over the $66million SSNIT Operational Business Suite (OBS project), which was meant to revamp the operations of SSNIT through Information Communications Technology.

 

The accused persons have denied the various charges -conspiracy to wilfully cause financial loss to the state and wilfully causing financial loss to the state.

 

Thompson and Kramer were jointly held over three counts of contravening the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).

 

Afaglo and Kramer are also facing a charge of defrauding by false pretences.

 

Afaglo has been accused again for securing his employment at SSNIT with fake Certificates and he is also said to have possessed forged documents and uttering the said forged certificates.

 

The five accused persons have pleaded not guilty before the court presided over by Mr. Justice Henry Kwofie, a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

 

2021 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial slated for December 7 – 8

Accra,– The 2021 United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Ministerial is slated for December 7-8 in Seoul, Korea, to bring members together to discuss ways to strengthen peacekeeping efforts and share renewed commitments.

 

Madam Martha Pobee, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, made this known in a virtual interview with the Ghana News Agency.

 

She said the Seoul UN Peacekeeping conference, the first to be held in Asia, would be the latest in a series of meetings of heads of state and governments since 2014 on peacekeeping.

 

The summit/ministerial process is co-chaired by 12 member states and the UN Secretariat.

 

Past meetings have focused primarily on generating and enhancing uniformed capabilities while also considering broader peacekeeping reform priorities, with an emphasis on concrete deliverables and targets such as increasing the deployment of women peacekeepers.

 

Madam Pobee said the conference would also focus on achieving concrete and tangible outcomes to improve peacekeeping operations, in line with ongoing reform efforts, specifically the Action for Peacekeeping Plus (A4P ), which reinforces integration of UN peacekeeping operations with partners.

 

For 70 years UN peacekeeping had been an important tool to help countries transit to peace and

 

maintain global security, she said.

 

Complex challenges had evolved with time in peacekeeping, hence the need to take stock and evaluate the impact of those challenges and tailor their responses to strengthen the work on the ground, Madam Pobee said.

 

“And so, this coming ministerial meeting would be a crucial opportunity to get the political support for peacekeeping operations from the international community.”

 

Touching on the impact of medical support and technology on peacekeeping, she said the conference would highlight medical capacity building and technology and draw on the strategy for digital transformation to improve the environmental footprint of peacekeeping.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

 

MCE visits grieving family of illegal mining disaster

Wassa Essikuma (W/R),- The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Prestea Huni-Valley, Dr Isaac Dasmani, has paid a visit to the elders and bereaved families of the nine persons, who died on Thursday in an illegal mining pit at Atros near Wassa Essikuma in the Western Region.

 

Dr Dasmani expressed his sympathy to the grieving family at Wassa Essikuma and visited the incident site.

 

He was accompanied by members of the Municipal Security Council (MUSEC), chairperson of Minerals Commission Board and the former Member of Parliament for Prestea Huni-Valley constituency, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, some New Patriotic Party constituency executives and members.

 

He said the illegal mining activities usually ended in tragedy and that was why the government introduced community mining to regulate their operations.

 

He appealed to stakeholders to present their land documentation to the Minerals Commission and other regulatory institutions and to his office to enable him to lobby if they could have community mining in Wassa Essikuma.

 

The MCE assured the people of Wassa Essikuma that the Assembly would put in place measures to avert such incidents from occurring in future.

 

He said investigations conducted so far revealed that those who survived had gone into hiding with the view that they would be arrested and prosecuted.

 

“We would not apprehend you so please come out of your hiding place to help the police know the actual number of victims who were in the pit,” he indicated.

 

Mrs Oteng-Gyasi promised to share an operational manual on community mining with the citizens of the Prestea Huni-Valley constituency to enable them to have fair insight into the programme.

 

The Abusuapenyin of Wassa Essikuma Kwabena Poku and the queen mother Obaapanyin Pokua thanked the MCE and his team for mourning with the community in this painful moment.

 

They pleaded with the MCE to liaise with the appropriate authorities to ensure they release the bodies of the deceased to the families on time for burial.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

 

COGINTA-GHANA launches electoral violence prevention programme

Tamale,– A non-governmental organisation (NGO), COGINTA-GHANA, has launched a programme to build institutional capacities to promote good and inclusive governance geared towards achieving sustainable peace in the country.

 

The programme, dubbed: “Preventing Electoral Violence and Providing Security to Northern Border Regions of Ghana (NORPREVSEC)” is a three-year initiative being implemented in the Northern, North East, Upper East, Upper West and Savannah regions with funding support from the European Union (EU).

 

The NORPREVSEC seeks to enhance peace-building and violence prevention mechanisms in the implementing regions, including building the resilience of residents along the country’s border regions against violent extremism and related issues.

 

Mr Clement Aapengnuo, the Team Leader COGINTA –GHANA, speaking at the launch of the programme, in Tamale, said it would among other activities equip key government and non-government actors with strategic plans to implement coordinated efforts to sustain peace among residents in the operational areas.

 

He said, “It will also implement interventions aimed at preventing pre-and post-electoral violence, against women and girls.”

 

Mr Aapengnuo indicated that as part of the programme there would be capacity building for stakeholders to enhance their skills in early warning, conflict resolution, countering terrorism and fighting against transnational organised crime concerning rule of law and human rights.

 

He called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders to support the programme by actively contributing towards peace-building and preventing violent extremism in the country.

 

Madam Anna Lixi, Team Leader of Governance Section at the European Union Delegation to Ghana, stated that violent extremism was often nurtured by local conflicts and disputes and remained a global problem.

 

She mentioned that issues of conflicts and other disputes had become threats to the Gulf of Guinea, including Ghana, adding that, efforts were being made to develop partnerships for effective response measures to such issues.

 

She said the European Union would be providing the necessary support to the security agencies, especially to the Ghana Police Service and Ghana Immigration Service to boost their work effectively to prevent violence in the country.

 

Madam Lixi said, “NORPREVSEC progamme is to bring the law enforcement agencies closer to the communities and to build mutual trust among the people and security service as a better response to the emerging security threats.”

 

Mr Herve Gonsolin, the Technical Adviser and also Senior Programme Manager at COGINTA-GHANA, called on stakeholders to continue to create more awareness on the risk of political and inter-communal violence including pre and post-electoral conflict.

 

Alhaji Shani Alhassan Saibu, the Northern Regional Minister, in a speech read on his behalf, called on CSOs to strengthen their partnership with the government to build a peaceful country to enhance development.

 

COGINTA-GHANA is an NGO working in area of judicial and security governance, social cohesion, conflict management and prevention, resilience and community development.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

 

Gender-Based Violence increases risk of HIV infection-GAC

Jirapa, (UW/R),– Mr Yakubu Dramani, the Upper West Regional Technical Coordinator of the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), has indicated that persons who suffer from gender-based violence (GBV) such as rape and defilement are at more risk of contracting HIV.

 

He said rape and defilement were forced without protection and victims could suffer bruises as a result, which increased their chances of contracting the virus if the perpetrator was a carrier of the virus.

 

Mr Dramani said this at the Upper West Regional commemoration of World Aids Day (WAD) at Jirapa.

 

The celebration was characterized by a float along some principal streets of Jirapa with participants wielding placards some of which read: “Be Bold Get Tested”, “Safe sex lets end AIDS by 2030”, “HIV has no cure” among others.

 

December 1 every year is observed as WAD to show support for people living with HIV and to remember those who had died from AIDS-related illnesses, with this year’s commemoration on the theme: “End Inequalities, End AIDS, End Pandemics.”

 

Mr Dramani explained that 80 per cent of HIV transmission was through unprotected sex with an infected person, 15 per cent was through mother-to-child transmission and five per cent was through infected sharp objects.

 

The Technical Coordinator stressed the need for regular testing to know one’s status to take the necessary precautions against it.

 

He also entreated persons who tested positive for the virus to be on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) to enable them to suppress the virus and to live a normal life.

 

“Stigmatising and discriminating against persons with HIV put all of us at risk, but if we support them and they go for the drugs, they will achieve viral suppression, which means they will have the virus alright but they can’t transmit to anyone,” Mr Dramani explained.

 

Madam Marcelline K. Babang-yel, the Upper West Regional Chairperson of NAP , attributed the inability of the country to meet its HIV target to the high stigmatisation and discrimination against persons living with HIV.

 

She said stigmatization discouraged people from testing to know their status as well as going for the medication in the event they tested positive for the virus.

 

“Persons with HIV should be supported to give off their best, they are human just like you,” she said.

 

She also called on the District Assemblies to continue to offer financial support to persons living with HIV to enable them to form support groups and to access support services.

 

“Every one of us here has a role to play to ensure that we end inequalities by stopping HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination”, Mr Nicholas Soyiri, the Jirapa Municipal Chief Executive, said.

 

He said the GAC Act 2016 (Act 938) guaranteed the protection of the rights of people infected with HIV and AIDS, including their rights to work and education, among others.

 

He added that the Act criminalised HIV related stigma and discrimination, saying, “In spite of the numerous policies and intensified education campaign…stigma continues to be a bane to the national response.”

 

Available data from the GAC indicated that the Upper West Region had HIV prevalence rate of 1.1 per cent with the Wa Municipal having the highest prevalence rate of 1.5 per cent and Lambussie District having the lowest rate of 0.6 per cent.

 

Daffiama-Bussie-Issa District has a prevalence rate of 1.1 per cent, Jirapa 0.8 per cent; Lawra 1.2 per cent, Nadowli-Kaleo 0.9 per cent; Nandom 1.3 per cent, Sissala East 1.0 per cent, Sissala West 0.9; Wa East 1.0 and Wa West District 0.8 per cent.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana rallies support for Covid-19 vaccination

Accra,- The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) has urged the public to avail themselves of the Covid-19 vaccines, following the emergence of the Omicron variant in Ghana and some countries.

 

The new variant designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is said to have several mutations that can potentially impact its behaviour.

 

The PSGH commended Government’s effort at securing various safe, effective and FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines to address the on-going pandemic and assured the public that COVID-19 vaccines were safe and effective in reducing severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

 

“While no vaccine is 100% protective, the above benefits are compelling for pharmacists to advocate for its use,” it said, reiterating that COVID-19 vaccines go through rigorous, multi-stage testing processes, including studies that involve tens of thousands of people, and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Ghana Health Service (GHS) have strong measures in place to help ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines.

 

The PSGH reminded the public that taking the vaccine was not just for the benefit of the individual but to protect others as well who may be at higher risk, especially the elderly and people with underlying health conditions because COVID-19 could be life-threatening for them.

 

It expressed worry that despite the availability of various COVID-19 vaccines in the country, some individuals were hesitant to take the vaccines.

 

“Widespread acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines, however, is crucial to achieving sufficient immunization coverage to end the pandemic.”

 

PSGH said concerns about safety, side effects, and effectiveness were widespread among many people and access to social media had also facilitated the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.

 

Lack of awareness of the magnitude of the threat posed by COVID-19 and the risk of contracting it, mistrust of vaccines developed in western countries, as well as religious beliefs are some of the reasons people hesitate to take the vaccine.

 

 

 

The PSGH urged the public to take advantage of the unique accessibility of pharmacists in the communities and engage them about any clarifications they might need about the pandemic and the vaccines.

 

“Pharmacists are ever ready to inform, educate and engage their patients and clients to mollify their fears regarding safety and credibility of COVID-19 vaccines, arising out of many myths, misconceptions, and unfounded conspiracy theories.”

 

 

 

The PSGH called on government and policy makers to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines were not only available but accessible and administered in a convenient and orderly manner.

 

“Immunizers should communicate in a language that is convenient to the local communities, provide services in a timely manner and respect the beliefs and culture of the people. A boost in appeal of immunization services is a vote for vaccine acceptance.”

 

 

 

The PSGH urged the public to observe all the other recommended safety protocols, including frequent handwashing, use of hand sanitizers when handwashing is not possible, always maintaining social distancing and wearing of face masks.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

 

NMC warns Onua FM against inciteful broadcast

Accra, Dec 02, GNA – The National Media Commission (NMC) has cautioned Accra-based Onua FM over a broadcast the Commission deems “unprofessional and inciteful.

 

 

The Commission, in a statement issued by Mr George Sarpong, the Executive Secretary, to management of the FM station, said it was concerned about a recent broadcast by the station in, which “Captain Smart called for insurrection against the State of Ghana and its institutions.”

 

That, it said, “by all standards, crossed the line of robust and critical broadcasting and transformed the radio station into a megaphone of war.”

 

“Part of your broadcast raises concern for the peace and security of the country in a manner that demands immediate regulatory action,” the statement said.

 

It noted that while that particular broadcast, constituted adequate grounds for regulatory action, the Commission still retained the belief that given the chance, management of the Station could take steps to bring their content to a level of professional acceptability.

 

“We are fortified in this belief by the fact that considerable parts of your other broadcast, including the news, offer that hope. We would be glad if you noted that exercising the required professional caution is in your interest.”

 

Source: Ghana News Agency