A healthier Ashanti region that is economically wealthy, technologically vibrant, and environmentally safe.
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Ashanti Region, which is my maternal home is where I imbibed my Ghanaian cultural beliefs. As a female young entrepreneur in Ashanti region, “Funmart's Blends and Desserts” is a start up created in 2018, within the commercial food sector with the vision of manufacturing healthy foods, sugar free cakes, desserts and fruit smoothies for the general public with the aim of curbing unhealthy eating and feeding habit in Ashanti region. Our products are being sold at churches, and open markets. We operate low market prices in order to serve everyone irrespective of their income value. Interesting to know is that, we are involved in a humanitarian response, both in acute and chronic emergencies, where food shortages exist among children and households often struggling to meet their immediate food needs. We have been able to intervene in such cases by providing healthy fresh food products. There is also an advocacy on reduction of food wastage via the platform we started, “The Magnificent Network”, here, we sensitize people on healthy nutritious foods and means of stopping food wastage but rather convert them to value-added product safely. We are located within the Kumasi central market. The Kumasi central market is an open-air market in the city of Kumasi, the capital of Ashanti.It is the largest single market in West Africa. It has over 10,000 stores and stalls.Kejetia market is an entrepreneurial hub for diverse people. It is estimated to cover a total area of 172,197 square meters. Kejetia has served as the regional food market centre. Funmart's Blends and Desserts provides Ashanti region with a perfect definition of what a vibrant food system should be as we have imbibed all the characteristics in our mission and works.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Cultural cuisines in Ashanti Region
The Ashanti Region is located in south Ghana and it is the third largest of 16 administrative regions, occupying a total land surface of 24,389 km2 (9,417 sq mi) of the total land area of Ghana.The Ashanti live in central Ghana in the Rain forests of West Africa approximately 150 miles away from the coast. The Ashanti are a major ethnic group of the Akans (Ashanti and Fanti) in Ghana. Kumasi is the capital city of Ashanti region. The Ashanti are the largest tribe in Ghana and one of the few matrilineal societies in West Africa.The people have always been known as fierce fighters with the slogan: "If I go forward I die, If I go backward I die, Better go forward and die." Culturally, we love solid foods like "fufuo"; pounded cooked cassava garnished with peanut or palmfruit soup, also there is "Banku" gotten from maize and wrapped in balls. With rice variants, we have wache, emutuo(rice balls) and more. Agricultural farming is the prevalent sector in the region's economic activities and it is endowed with abundant arable lands which support the production of cash crops such as coffee, cocoa, mango, oil palm, citrus cashew, and food crops like yam, cassava, maize, rice, plantain, cocoyam, vegetables, wheat, sweet potatoes, millet, beans, onions, peanuts, tomatoes, and many fruits. Manioc and corn were introduced into the region during the Atlantic European trade. Economically, Ashanti region is well driven by its natural resources, being one of the world's top 10 largest gold-producers, and the second largest cocoa producer. The region is also known for its production of manganese, while operating low levels of taxation. Fish is a widely preferred source of animal protein for Ashanti people, however, environmental forces has curbed the quest to produce large quantities. The Ashanti region, which is known to be one of the most populous regions with 5,792,182 people, depends largely on cold fish for consumption. There is a great demand for consumption of cold fish to fresh fish in the region. However, the markets for fresh fish produce remains a hindrance for the aquaculture production which needs a quick intervention in the region. We always celebrate farmer's day every 6th March to appreciate the gains of farming with high accolades to farmers. Our signature is black beauty which depicts our presence everywhere we journey.
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
As Kumasi is known for (having Municipal districts) its cultural prominence, the city lacks a defined understanding of hunger and poverty which is a loophole in the different social groups and geographical locations. Most of the sub-towns are crippled with hunger syndrome and poverty hung on the faces of the masses. This leads to malnutrition as they are forced to feed on virtually anything seen and known as food. There is inadequate dietary energy and consumption of micronutrient-rich foods. Also, there is inadequate funding of food and nutrition security programmes at all levels; regional, district and community; and has metamorphosed into a chronic problem in the food system. Lack of human resource capacity in various districts for conducting and sensitizing the people on nutrition activities is quite woeful. Most of our districts have lesser 2-3 nutrition officers in charge of all the nutrition programmes, so there is hardly any Nutrition Technical Officer. There is weak inter-ministerial collaboration which has caused a deficient food system. Food and nutrition security is multi-sectoral and due to less collaboration among the relevant ministries and agencies very little has been achieved. With the government statistical agency in charge of data, there has been a lack of proper documentation on what segments of the population are food insecure and what variants of foods are actually considered as nutrious food by the people. There is disproportionate attention of overseeing nutrition programmes in the different districts which has led to inadequate monitoring and evaluation of food programmes and resulted in a slow food system. Policies are not working rightly in the food and nutritional agencies. Due to lapses in the agricultural produce of more grains, tubers, cereals, and vegetables, there is inadequate cultivation and consumption of nutritious local foods by households. Kumasi people are known for consuming local diets but there has been low production in the agricultural sector and these farm produce are being exported from other regions which gets very expensive to purchase and undermines the poor and average masses. Food crop productivities, especially of legumes, are not optimally cultivated. Extension personnels and farmers have limited knowledge on soil topography, changing soil chemistry and soil physics which incurs the crisis of inability to sustain nutrition-sensitive food production systems such as mixed cropping and mixed farming in the region. Farmers also experience post-harvest losses and there has not been adequate intervention which may lead to future food crisis and hunger. Farmers also lack seed management education and this remains limited. Communication Technology among farmers is on the low side. Farmers have not been strongly immersed into the use of technology which can aid loss of seedlings and help upgrade production and harvesting. Lack of market access in the region is burdensome.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Looking at the burden of malnutrition, Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM), macronutrient malnutrition, overweight and obesity, Ashanti region would require effective food-based strategies, which includes the production of nutrient-rich foods as well as food fortification to achieve a working food system. For the food and nutrition strategy to be effectively implemented, the ministries in the Ashanti region must be committed to this change. To effectively curb future risks of food insecurity, Ashanti regional council must take drastic disciplinary measures by appointing an advisory board including top regional leaders, representatives from ministries to the grassroot level, research institutions, development partners, nutritionists, tertiary and civil society representatives. The council must critically address food and nutrition insecurity by necessarily bridging the rural-urban food production gap, and female-male farming benefit gaps. Also, it is expedient to expand the scope of vulnerable groups to include children, adolescents and the aged, as well as critically tackle infectious diseases. These gaps are gradually widening, and might become a thorn in the flesh if not addressed. There is the need to institute strategies that incorporate local food systems and food sovereignty paradigms. A variant of the agricultural clusters model is one such strategy which allows for traditional (local) food systems to be improved rather than being replaced. The mixed cropping and mixed farming systems can be effectively improved within the agricultural clusters system. Private sector operatives such as input dealers, aggregators, processors, marketers, financiers and others are key members of agricultural clusters. Also, advocacy in the Ashanti region with “Planting for Healthy Foods and Jobs” campaign headline would clearly sensitize at pursuing the zero-hunger agenda. Efficient coordination of government policies, programmes and projects at all geographical levels and in all sectors is a key to achieving sustainable food system in Ashanti region. Food system interventions should be designed as integrated multi-sectoral, rural-urban projects and implemented as such; Food system security interventions. The Government, development partners, the private sector, agencies and institutions, and donor organizations should be engaged to provide funding for a well-structured food system security institutional set-up to oversee the implementation of interventions. Utmost, Women farmers should be empowered, provide nutrition education for all, and increase partnership with the media both traditional and digital media, and seek financial support to advance and achieve food system strategies. Agricultural innovative methods based on science and technology, in food production, processing marketing, and distribution are integral for the achievement of a sustainable food system in Ashanti region. Internet Communication Technology,
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
The Ashanti culture is inherent in our agricultural system. Our foods serve as a powerful expression of how we tie ourselves to the land and preserve our traditions. The types of foods we consume, the preparation and cooking practices involved, and the way we eat those foods all articulate who we are. Our food production system aims at being sustainable. Sustainability here implies that the food system would get better in terms of agricultural soil improvement and ecosystem which will be profitable with excess returns on costs, and also, equitable by providing a reasonable livelihood to smallholder farmers, market traders and having the potential of being resilient; able to withstand climate, diseases, and market values. In terms of technology, improving what farmers have and know about agricultural technology is a paramount means of solving broken food system which causes difficulty for poorest farmers to afford nutritious foods and make high income. The use of hoes and cutlasses need to be upgraded with new technological equipments used in western nations.Farmers would be deeply educated about these technologies in order to solve food production problems. The training would be conducted to suit the practical agricultural system in Ashanti region which would emphasize efficiency, productivity, and profitability with long-term goals. Government policies will ensure that the poorest people are nutritionally secured. By engaging government officials to influence the food system through Ashanti regional dietary guidelines which will provide the basis for food and nutrition policy and education initiatives will foster healthy eating habits and reduce the incidence of nutrition-related chronic diseases and sicknesses. Also, it would reflect the science on food and diets, while adapting to local culture and food availability. This strategy would influence school feeding programs, hospitals, and effect changes in the way the food industry formulates its food products
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Aerial view of Ashanti Region
In view of the global pledges to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, with drawing on the basic dimension of food security, availability and access, which includes physical and economical access to food and food utilization based on cultural, dietary requirements and food stability, that is, the stability of its provision by FAO/UNICEF, our vision entails the functional and dietary food system approach in promoting healthy lifestyle for the people of Ashanti, upfront 2050. Our core focus on nutritious foods is not limited to production alone, but also processing, distribution, trade, marketing, retailing and food services. This is important in Ashanti region, Ghana, because chronic health problems related to dietary excess are far reaching. We have set of goals for the people of Ashanti to have greater access to an array of nutritious, affordable and safe foods, with less exposure to the consumption and marketing of foods high in fats, calories, and sugar with the aim of curbing unhealthy eating and feeding habit. Production of processed fresh fish and animal food sources made available and affordable for consumption, to align with dietary guidelines, leading to healthier citizens, lower healthcare costs and a more economically productive workforce, thus benefiting economic prosperity. Improve and secure lives in Ashanti region from a sustainable diet created as a result of abundant access to nutritious foods. We envision to strengthen our culture by infusing more nutrient based foods into their diets and bridge the gap of malnutrition while ensuring zero waste of food and supporting the nutritional needs of communities.
Sensitization on healthy nutritious foods and reduction in food wastage with ways to convert them to value-added product safely. Work more with private sectors, food companies, advocacy programmes with food bloggers in both urban and rural communities, increase partnership with food scientists, policy makers and technical scientists to strengthen capacity of assessing and managing food safety risks in Ashanti Region. Collaborate with farmers in communities to produce more organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, cereals for stock, with establishment of food kitchens relatively close to the populace. Harness data analyst to survey, gather and interpret information/ data about children, people, nutrition, hunger and food insecurity, to make us ensure no one is left behind, while we also importantly address undernourishment, which is especially urgent for children living in most affected communities with climatic variability.
A responsive food supply chain management in Ashanti region that supports efficient farming deliveries. Equitable land tenure policies from the grassroots would effectively aid large scale food production activities among farmers, thereby expanding agricultural markets in Ashanti region. which would lead to ensuring sufficient foods with diverse nutritional content made available at prices households can afford. Hence, a climatic growth support would increase production and maintain a long-term food security base that relies on natural resources in the agricultural system.
Link smallholder farmers to markets to increase the availability, access and utilization of staples foods; mainly maize, millet, grains, and soybeans which are major classes of foods Ashantis' prefer. For instance, agro-food processing companies that produce and specialize in healthy blended nutritious foods. Also, farmers get connected to large farm produce distributors in the market zones in the cities and sub towns. Third, by engaging scientists and technical food officers, there would be strict adherence to the production, processing, distribution, marketing, retail trade and food services of nutritious foods with methods and processes that supports environmental sustainability and animal welfare, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, maintain and restore biodiversity, and support healthy soils, clean water and sustainably manage aquaculture, with less food waste. Leading to regeneration of Ashanti region lands with healthier environment.
We envision the adoption of internet communication technology by Ashanti farmers to further improve agricultural productivities through information on the precise input important for use and ensure more environmentally friendly agricultural production. For example, in the Western countries such as Germany, one of the achievements of ICT in agricultural production is the use of software for plant nutrient application rate. Pampolino et al. (2012) found that the use of Nutrient Expert for Hybrid Maize (NEHM) software increased the yield and economic benefits of farmers with the provision of information on nutrient application rate. The software shall improve and increase future sustainability of our lands. Ensure sustainability of farming in Ashanti all year round with improved irrigation system, proper application of fertilizers, proper storage systems, and right education programmes will be created for farmers.
Incorporate well trained extension officers for both animals and crops into the Ashanti region food system. For produce like; Rice, maize, sorghum, beans, cassava, and yam, sticks and seed multiplication or tissue culture techniques would be introduced to the farmers and used to produce resistant varieties and high yields. In furtherance, educate farmers with specialty in fruits and vegetables on hydroponics greenhouse and intensive production technology that are used to produce a high quality, all year round produce. Provision of mobile phones to support farmers' access to information on agricultural extension services, markets, financial services and livelihood support, thereby translating to better access to extension services, better market links, distribution networks and better access to loans among farmer groups. Also, a registered USSD code for farmers to ensure easy communication access among themselves from the grassroots to the major cities. Nitrification inhibitors, which slow the rate at which excess nitrogen in soil fertilisers is turned into nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas — are also more efficient for modern farming. This is also backed by Timothy Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University and lead author of the World Resource Institute, WRI’s “Creating a Sustainable Food Future” reported, nitrification inhibitors prevent loss from leaching, making more of their nutrients available to the crops. Incorporating this technology into our farming system will increase farm yields with abundant foods available in the region with reduction in hunger. To deepen and enlarge our aquaculture system, Recirculation of Acquacultural System(RAS) will better enhance fish farming system with increased outputs and grow an efficient aquaculture business in the region.
Excess job opportunities from a sustainable economy created as a result of available nutritious foods. Equitably share economic wealth, that supports rural development, urban livelihoods and economic competitiveness. New organic agribusinesses established through entrepreneurship and workers enhanced with skills needed to operate in such an economy and attain a decent standard of living.
Furthermore, taking a stop at the market development, Ashantis rely on markets to access their foods even as we keep getting digitalized every second. Creation of a geographically dispersed market systems to move healthy nutritious foods from the farms to the homes. A well working supply chain management is envisioned to get food easily supplied and accessible by every household. Work with Government,donors,stakeholders,food companies, researchers, students, entrepreneurs, and private sector actors to set up modern and more efficient food supply chain systems, by providing appropriate storage facilities, technologies and services that will guarantee food safety and quality standards. Small-scale women processors of blended flours would be trained to produce safe, nutritious foods in their communities. Government investing in SMEs and entrepreneurs to bring nutritious, sustainably produced foods into deprived neighbourhoods would optimally promote food security.
Adoption of food security mechanism policies from the remote districts to the regional level to further provide an enabling environment for entrepreneurship, enhance peaceful coexistence against conflicts and war thereby promoting security, and establish a framework that can act as a watchdog for food system. Adoption of government policy on formal and informal structures and processes by Ashanti farmers to increase agricultural and market productivity. Creation of more jobs from an equitable land policy system will expand the employment sector. We envision a healthy food safety programmes in Ashanti around production of nutritious foods, get engaged with district leaders and NGOs as it pertains to more food crops production while stocking grains and cereals. This, we believe would largely support farmers to make a reasonable living and keep the rural economy alive. Overtly, we envision to ultimately tackle the root causes of food insecurity, strengthen intra and external relationships and ensure community resilience.
This vision holds the potential to set the Ashanti region food system on a healthier, safer, and wealthier path; one that meets the needs of generations, while simultaneously ensuring that our food systems are culturally inclusive, strongly backed by policies, economically viable with innovative technology, and environmentally sustainable. Moreover, we want to rewrite the Ashantis' story by feeding current and future generations with nutrient based foods for healthy growth and revive the region from facing hunger, undernutrition, and malnutrition in 2050.
An improved food system leads to a better growth, economic development and educational achievements in children, adolescents and adults alike.