Around 12% of Ghana’s population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. For many Ghanaians, including those in poverty, food security is a pressing issue. Ghana, a country of more than 31 million people on Africa’s west coast, is currently in the midst of a food crisis. Food systems in Ghana have experienced strain due to recent global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine War, leading to supply chain and food system shortages.
The 2020 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis report for Ghana said that 63.8% of Ghanaians experienced a shock from COVID-19 that contributed to food insecurity. That same report concluded that in 2020, 11.7% of households in Ghana were food insecure.
Despite occurring on a different continent, the war between Russia and Ukraine has had a devastating impact on Ghana. Agriculture is one of the pillars of Ghana’s economy, with half of the workforce being in the agriculture sector.
Food systems in Ghana are highly reliant on nitrogen fertilizer, which it has imported from Russia. Due to sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine, prices for Russian exports have skyrocketed and fertilizer was no exception. New York 1 reported that Ghana relies on Russia for one-fifth of its imports of fertilizer.
The Northern Development and Democratic Institute released a grim report with projections for the remainder of 2022. Ghana is likely to see an increase in hunger and a worsening food insecurity crisis in the final two quarters of the year, heading into 2023.
This problem is not unique to Ghana, though. Many countries are suffering the effects of supply chain issues and price hikes for fertilizer and other imports. In August 2022, the United States Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned of a worsening food insecurity crisis as an effect of the war in Ukraine.
“That would mean that more than 40 million people will have become food insecure since [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin chose to invade his neighbor and steal their land. That is more people than the entire population of Ghana,” said Thomas-Greenfield.
The future is not bleak for food systems in Ghana, though. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on August 5 that they are committing $2.5 million in aid to Ghana to alleviate the food crisis.
According to the press release, the aid money will go toward:
- Developing new fertilizer products both organic and inorganic
- Working with fertilizer companies and manufacturers to export fertilizer into Ghana
- Making sure farms in Ghana receive sufficient amounts of fertilizer
In addition to the money from USAID, the World Bank will contribute to efforts to stabilize the food systems in Ghana. The Food Systems Resilience Program (FSRP-2) recently received approval for an additional $315 million in funding from the International Development Association. FSRP-2 will provide aid to three Western African countries: Sierra Leone, Chad and Ghana. The efforts that FSRP-2 funded should reduce food insecurity in the region by 25%.
Overall, food systems in Ghana are struggling but not entirely broken. Outside factors like the war in Ukraine and supply chain shocks that the COVID-19 pandemic caused hampered food security in the West African nation, but the existing strength of the agricultural sector as well as foreign aid should stabilize and revitalize Ghana’s food systems.
– Emma Rushworth