Consider urban agriculture in national policy development

Accra, The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana on Wednesday implored government to include Urban Agriculture (gardening) in its policy of “Planting for Food and Jobs” to curb unemployment among the youth.

Mrs Victoria Adongo, Programmes Coordinator of the Association also appealed to government to encourage backyard gardening which boosted food production when the “Operation feed yourself” was introduced some year ago.

Mrs Adongo who was speaking at a National Forum on Local Seeds, Nutrition and Urban gardening held in Accra noted that 200 million people were involved in urban agriculture worldwide and that had contributed to the feeding of 800 million urban dwellers.

According to her, Urban Agriculture had been branded as compliment in the urban food supply with 40 per cent of the population in Africa engaged in the practice.

The programme jointly held by Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) and the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana is aimed at drawing public attention to seed diversity for nutrition, health and wealth.

The forum also sought to create awareness on the impact of agro-chemicals on the environment and food quality and educate the public on nutritive potentials of our local seeds, food and the importance of biological agriculture in urban gardening.

Mrs Adongo noted that urban agriculture maintained biodiversity, ecosystem and provided climate resilience and temperature control in urban and peri-urban areas.

According to the Programmes Coordinator, the concept was however plagued with challenges such as increasing population and urbanisation and the threat of Commercial food production.

She noted that access to land or space by estate developers, competition for water, lack of storage facilities, and conflict on lands were some of the militating factors against urban agriculture.

She called for the institutionalisation and integration of urban agriculture into the country’s economic development agenda.

“Estate Developers should also be entreated to allocate portions of lands for community gardening to boost food production and promote social cohesion.”

Mr Bernard Guri, Executive Director, CIKOD, noted that over the years the focus had been on provision of seeds and chemical fertilizers for increased yield without much concern for dietary diversity for nutrition and health.

Mr Guri noted that those policies had rather resulted in pollution on the environment and water bodies which affected the health of many people.

He said it was therefore important to promote seed diversity and food nutrition.

Mrs Grace Dzifa Wornyoh, Clinical Dietician said no single food could give one all the nutritional needs and called for the consumption of balanced diets to ensure growth.

Mrs Wornyoh contended that the power of nutrition should not also be underestimated noting that under nutrition and over nutrition were the causes of some ailment in the country health problems.

The Clinical Dietician listed urbanisation, income, education and the media as factors affecting dietary diversity.

She suggested the creation of backyard farming as well as promoting improved technology for the preservation of food.

Mrs Wornyoh was of the opinion that nutrition should be a course in educational institutions in order to promote good eating habits.

Source: Ghana News Agency