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									 sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty

 Supported by the CGIAR

                        G hana ’ s
T ransformaTion
                           John Agyekum Kufuor
InternatIonal Food PolIcy research InstItute

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI®) was established in 1975.
IFPRI is one of 15 agricultural research centers that receives its principal funding from
governments, private foundations, and international and regional organizations, most of
which are members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

Cover illustration adapted from photography by © Karen Robinson/Panos Pictures
Design and layout: Joan K. Stephens (USA)
Photo credits: Page 3 © Karen Robinson/Panos Pictures, page 4 © Aubrey Wade/Panos
Pictures, page 8 © Carole Douglis/IFPRI
Ghana’s TransformaTion
John Agyekum Kufuor

John Kufuor served two terms as president of the Republic of Ghana from

2001–08. During his presidency, he served as chairperson of the African

Union (2007–08) and chairman of the Economic Community of West

African States for two terms (2003–05). Earlier in his career, he was twice

elected member of Parliament (1969–72 and 1979–81). He served as

a deputy minister of foreign affairs, representing Ghana’s delegation to

the United Nations (UN); secretary for local government; and chief legal

officer and city manager of Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana. He

is currently a Global Ambassador Against Hunger for the UN World Food

Programme; chairman of the UN Interpeace Program; member of Club de

Madrid; director of the Brenthurst Foundation of South Africa; and director

of the Sullivan Foundation. He received his BA and MA from Oxford

   University and was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn, London. In 2011,

        he received an award from Chatham House, UK, for his exemplary

            leadership qualities.

                    ore than one billion people            fairer and stable world will not count for
                    throughout the world, the              much.
                    highest number in the past
       four decades, will go hungry this year.             When I became Ghana’s president in
       More than a million of them live in my              2000, my country needed solutions for
       home country of Ghana. And hundreds of              hunger, malnutrition, and a host of other
       millions more across the globe suffer from          problems. Long years of military rule had
       “hidden hunger”: they have food on the              sapped the principles of good governance,
       table, but that food—all that is available to       accountability, and transparency from
       them—lacks many of the nutrients essential          Ghana. Respect for human rights was at
       to health.                                          its lowest level, the rule of law was abused
                                                           with impunity, and the people had little
      This failure to provide sufficient and               faith in the justice system. Like many other
      nutritious food has a devastating impact             African countries, Ghana’s economy had
      on health and development that starts in             stagnated for decades and its population
      the earliest days of life. The physical and          had fallen further into poverty, even as the
      mental development of unborn children is             Western world and countries in the Far
      badly damaged, often irreversibly, if their          East developed robust economies built on
      mothers cannot eat properly. Malnutrition            new, innovative technologies.
      stunts our children’s growth, increases their
      vulnerability to disease, and reduces their          Agriculture had been the mainstay of
      capacity to learn at school. Of course, all          the Ghanaian economy for more than
      this feeds into the wider economy, with              100 years, producing a variety of crops,
      poorer productivity and performance. The             from cocoa and oil palm to staples like
           challenges we face today are not                tubers, cereals, and fruits. Cultivation
               just about survival or fairness             practices remained traditional and
                  but are at the heart of hopes            subsistent in nature. About 60 percent
                     for long-term social and              of Ghana’s population directly depends
                        economic development.              on rural agriculture. Yet those who work
                          Without solutions, and           to provide food through farming are the
stunts our                   the commitment from           most food-insecure people in the country.
children’s                     political leaders           My administration aimed to ensure a
growth, increases                to put them               more efficient and productive agricultural
their vulnerability               into action, our         base that would become the engine of
                                   ambitions for a         the economy by providing food security,
to disease, and
reduces their
capacity to learn
at school.
ushering in industrialization, creating jobs,   around the world had largely bypassed
and increasing export revenues. The critical    Africa. The average farmer did not share in
need was—and is—for an agricultural             the advances in irrigation or improved crop
transformation.                                 varieties revolutionizing yields elsewhere.
                                                Our agriculture was overwhelmingly still
                                                rainfed. Extreme weather across Africa

TransforminG                                    was becoming more regular and rains
                                                were becoming more unpredictable.
aGriculTure                                     If the rains failed, our crops
                                                failed. And even if the
I have seen in Ghana and throughout Africa      rains came at the
the scale of the challenge we face and          time and intensity
also how governments can use science and        expected, pests
technology to overcome it. More than any        and diseases
continent, Africa needs solutions for its       could still
myriad challenges in agriculture, nutrition,    destroy
and health. Africa alone, of all the world’s    our
continents, does not grow enough food to
feed itself. This is not because of lack of
will or shortage of land. In fact, around 60
percent of the world’s uncultivated arable
land is in Africa. Rather, the devastating
food deficit on the continent stems
largely from a lack of knowledge,
resources, and opportunity.

In 2000, agriculture, as it was
practiced in Ghana, looked
much the same as it had for
decades and even centuries
before. It was back-breaking,
with little joy or reasonable
reward to attract educated
youth. The revolution that
transformed agriculture
crops because farmers rarely used                The failure of agriculture forced Ghana to
pesticides and fertilizers. There was hardly     import food from outside our continent,
any diversification, which, together with        stripping the country of resources
outdated farming practices, reduced the          needed for development. But too often
fertility and quality of the soil. It forced     this imported food itself was of dubious
families to move on, slashing and burning,       nutritional quality. Europe and Asia dumped
   causing severe and lasting damage to          inferior chicken parts and poor-quality rice
          our environment. The educated          in Africa, forcing down the prices of our
               youth, therefore, escaped and     home-grown crops. But the evidence shows
                   drifted from rural areas      that if our farmers gain the knowledge and
                       into towns in search of   resources their counterparts in other parts
                            nonexistent jobs.    of the world take for granted, they can
                                                 quickly increase yields. I have seen this in
                                                 Ghana with important cash crops like cocoa
                                                 and in food production.

                                                 As part of my administration’s rural
                                                 redevelopment plan, reactivated agricultural
                                                 extension services paid special attention to
                                                 educating cocoa farmers on best practices.
                                                 Ghana is the second largest exporter of
                                                   cocoa in the world, but it was always
                                                     clear that, with the right government
                                                       support and the spread of best
                                                         practices, yields could be increased.

                                                          My administration adapted
                                                           the latest knowledge from
                                                            universities, research institutes,
                                                             experts, and farmers across
                                                              the world. Farmers’ access to
                                                               affordable credit underpinned
                                                                our policy. The government
                                                                sprayed cocoa farms with
                                                                 pesticides free of charge
and provided fertilizers where needed.                aquaculture along the Volta Lake. The
Importantly, the government gave farmers              outcome was that, despite the problems
a major incentive to expand production by             the nation faced, especially through 2006,
increasing their share of the international           2007, and 2008, food is now more plentiful
export price from 40 percent in 2002 to               in Ghana.
about 70 percent in 2004. The result was
dramatic. Between 2002 and 2005, cocoa
production in Ghana doubled—from 350,000
tons to 734,000 tons, an all-time record in           TransforminG
more than a century of cocoa farming in
the country. The government successfully
used many of the same techniques to                   For a country like Ghana, where more than
improve production for food crops such                half its people farm the land, transforming
as maize, yams, and plantains, as well as             agriculture helps to transform everyone.
livestock and fish. My administration also            The farmers’ progress did not just result
strengthened the Grains and Legumes                   in increased exports; the government
Development Board to supply quality seeds             launched an ambitious program to give
and planting materials to farmers as a                many kindergarten and primary school pupils
strategy to improve the quantity and quality          a daily hot and nutritious meal made from
of Ghana’s agriculture produce.                       locally produced food, which resulted in a
                                                      monumental increase in school enrollment.
While increasing crop yields is vital, it             The policy provided proper nourishment for
is of little use if the product cannot be             the children and also support for the farmers.
stored safely or transported to markets.
Therefore, along with supporting irrigation,          The expectation of nutritious meals
improved seeds, and crop diversification,             kept children in school, which
the government pursued an integrated                  has many advantages. One
rural development policy, building feeder             such advantage is reducing
roads, silos, and cold stores for horticultural       teenage pregnancy: the               Food
crops (such as pineapples, mangoes,                   longer a girl stays
and bananas). The government also                     in school, the less
made mechanization, like tractors, more               likely she is to get          not just the
affordable for farmers through favorable
loan terms. Landing sites were developed
                                                      pregnant. Educated
                                                      girls who become
                                                                                      health of
for sea fisheries on the beach and for                mothers later             individuals but
                                                                                also the health
                                                                               of communities.
    in life are better able to care for their           politically stable countries on the continent
    children. Currently, more girls than boys are       and has made some of the greatest
    enrolling in schools in many parts of the           progress in reducing hunger, poverty, and
    country. Our comprehensive educational              malnutrition. In recognition of this progress
    reform policy also upgraded all the teacher         and based on a compact developed to
    training colleges to emphasize the teaching         modernize agriculture and attract and
    of mathematics, science, and technology,            retain the youth in the sector, the US
    and stressed vocational training and                government awarded a grant of $547
    apprenticeship at the secondary levels.             million to Ghana under the Millennium
                                                        Challenge Account. The development
    To build on our education policies, huge            priorities set by my administration aligned
    investments were made in the health                 with many of the UN’s Millennium
    sector and the national health insurance            Development Goals. One goal for both
    scheme, which included free maternity               the government and the UN was that the
    care. Nearly 56 percent of the population           nation attain middle-income status by
    was insured within the first three years, on        2015. By 2007, multilateral organizations
    an affordable premium of around US$10               determined Ghana had reached middle-
    annually. The government invested in these          income status, with a per capita GDP
    policies because we knew that a healthy,            of more than US$1,300. This happened
    well-educated population would make our             eight years in advance of the target,
    country stronger.                                   and even before the crude oil find in the
                                                        same year. In fact, even in the teeth of
                                                        the international financial and economic

      TransforminG                                      crisis, Ghana’s GDP grew 8.4 percent in
                                                        2007–08, reaching its highest level in the
        The counTry                                     country’s history. The latest Global Hunger
                                                        Index (GHI), which measures children’s
                  During the past decade, the           undernourishment, underweight, and
                    many new agricultural,              mortality in developing countries, showed
Ghana                 social, and economic              that Ghana had one of the 10 greatest
is now                  policies have shifted           percentage reductions in GHI scores since
                          Ghana’s position in           1990 (see Figure 1).
considered                 Africa. It is now
one of the                   considered one             None of these advances, or the reforms
                              of the more
more politically                                        that precipitated them, would have been

stable countries
on the continent.
Figure 1—GHI winners and losers from 1990 GHI to 2010 GHI

                         Winners (Percentage decrease in GHI)       Losers (Percentage increase in GHI)
             Peru -54                                                                                          Congo, Dem. Rep. +66
   Saudi Arabia -55                                                              Comoros +21
Iran, Islamic Rep. -56                                                          Burundi +20
         Ghana -57                                                              North Korea +20
     Nicaragua -58                                                          Swaziland +14
        Tunisia -58                                                        Zimbabwe +12
      Mexico -62                                                         Guinea-Bissau +8
      Turkey -62                                                      Liberia +6
   Malaysia -63                                                       Gambia, The +6
Kuwait -73

      -80         -60            -40           -20              0             20            40            60

 Source: K. von Grebmer, M. T. Ruel, P. Menon, B. Nestorova, T. Olo nbiyi, H. Fritschel, Y. Yohannes, 2010 Global Hunger
 Index, The Challenge of Hunger: Focus on the Crisis of Child Undernutrition (Washington, DC: International Food Policy
 Research Institute, 2010).
 Note: Countries with both 1990 GHI less than ve and 2010 GHI less than ve are excluded.

  as successful if the Ghanaian people                                   due process, people felt free to express
  did not have true democratic freedom.                                  themselves without having to look over their
  The government took the furthering of                                  shoulders. My administration gave a great
  democracy very seriously. One of the first                             deal of attention to furthering freedom
  things my administration did was to repeal                             of expression, freedom of association,
  the criminal libel law, which successive                               and freedom of belief, allowing people to
  governments since colonial times had used                              practice the religion of their choice.
  to muzzle the media. We opened up the
  licensing of media houses. The number of                               As Ghana’s position in Africa improved,
  FM radio stations mushroomed around                                    my administration worked to help our
  the country; there must be around 200                                  neighbors promote democratic values as
  in the country now. Ghana deserves—and                                 well. We needed to pursue policies that
  now has—an accountable government                                      relaxed tensions. Along the way we became
  that respects the country’s constitution,                              aware that most of the countries looked
  including free speech and due process of                               up to Ghana. We felt self-conscious to
  law. Because the government insisted on                                get it right. Some countries experienced

unrest: Cote D’Ivoire, Togo, Liberia, and      Because we are dedicated to democratic
Sierra Leone. Ghana played a lead role         principles, we are also dedicated to
in resolution of problems in all these         fairness and to justice. But in a world
countries. We talked not only about            as technologically advanced as ours,
peace but also about legality and              widespread hunger is not justice. Farmers
constitutionality. Preaching this elsewhere,   must be transformed by educating and
   we couldn’t practice differently at         empowering them to maximize quality
         home. Feeling accountable to          food outputs using science and technology.
             those around us contributed       A healthy and happy future for mankind
                  to the practice of good      demands such farmers because food is the
                      governance over the      most basic of needs. It decides not just the
                          last decade.         health of individuals but also the health of
                                               communities. Yet, shortages of nutritious
                                               food condemn millions of our fellow human
                                               beings to far shorter lives than those in
                                               more food-secure countries. In the twenty-
                                               first century, this is a scandal that must
                                               shame all of us. The forces of globalization,
                                               if they are to be seen throughout the world
                                               as benign, must be harnessed to tackle this
                                               most basic of inequalities.
                sustainable solutions for ending hunger and p

                Supported by the CGIAR

InternatIonal Food
PolIcy research InstItute

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