Following the adoption of the HGSF and its subsequent implementation, the educational portfolio of HGSF has made great strides and impact. However, the agricultural component has been lacking. Survey reports from SEND-Ghana and SNV Ghana in 2008 indicated that foodstuff for the Ghana School Feeding Program was not purchased from smallholder farmers within the communities/districts in which the schools were situated.
Smallholder farmers will not automatically benefit from the programme because:
a) Caterers are not under any obligation to purchase their foodstuffs from the smallholders, so they purchase the foodstuffs from the cheapest sources. And because of the liberalized markets in the Sub-Saharan countries, food products such as rice, meat/chicken parts and cooking oil are far cheaper in the open markets.
b) There is no co-ordination and harmonization of the HGSF across different ministries (Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture). Therefore organizing the farmers and their organizations to take advantage of the programme has become problematic.
c) Purchasing and payments of food produce from the farmers by the caterers are not regular and thus there is little trust between caterers and farmers. While farmers complain of delays in payments, the caterers state that they pre-finance the provision of food and have to take out a loan at high interest rates. While farmers accuse caterers of breaking their promises to purchase from them when there is a glut, caterers fear farmers may sell their produce to others in the event that the open market offers competitive prices. Hence farmers could not be relied upon.
d) The smallholder farmers are not organized into commodity clusters or co-operatives. They as individuals cannot meet the demand in qualities and quantities and prompt supplies for the HGSF.
King-David Amoah, ECASARD, Ghana