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School feeding programmes that purchase their food from local smallholder farmers can support agricultural development in Africa was one of the key messages of 2011 World Food Prize Laureate, H.E John A. Kufuor. Accepting the internationally renowned award, the former President of Ghana highlighted the role that national school feeding programmes can have in increasing the earning potential of Africa’s smallholder farmers, a group which make up around 65% of Africa’s population.
H.E. Kufuor called upon development partners such as the World Food Programme, The Partnership for Child Development and the World Bank to continue working towards attaining food security through their support of national school feeding programmes. His comments, made during his keynote speech at the World Food Prize awards ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, build on his continued commitment to improve food security and combat hunger in Ghana and globally.
Awarded annually, the World Food Prize Foundation honours outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world.
H.E. Kufuor is acknowledged as having significantly improved national food security during his presidency through diverse initiatives including the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy which promoted long term investment in agricultural production. He also initiated the national school feeding programme which directly led to improved child nutrition as well as increased attendance at school.
In H.E. Kufuor’s acceptance speech, he spoke of the great strides Ghana has made in agriculture development and food security, expressing that "this achievement belongs to the people of Ghana, particularly the farmers."
He continued to emphasise the need to invest in food security stating "˜It is clear that without meeting the needs of families for food we cannot meet our wider ambitions for the world,’ calling on both governments and partners to put social justice at the heart of their agendas.
"With the right partnerships and with social justice at the heart of our plans, Africa can become the bread basket of the world"
PCD and H.E. Kufuor have joined together in partnership through a common interest in home grown school feeding. HGSF is an initiative that seeks to link school feeding programmes to local (or national) food production. As school feeding programmes run for a fixed number of days a year and have a pre-determined food basket, they can provide the opportunity to benefit local small holder farmers by generating a clear and stable demand. PCD, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is working to strengthen the knowledge base around HGSF and support national governments in changing their school feeding programmes to use locally sourced products.
Through the initiation of the John A. Kufuor (JAK) Foundation, H.E. Kufuor is continuing to strengthen the partnership for the betterment of Ghana’s school children. Recognising that programmes such as the Ghana School Feeding Programme could not reach such success without good leadership, the JAK Foundation seeks to support the development of Africa’s future leaders.
PCD Executive Director Lesley Drake, who also attended the World Food Prize ceremony, commented "PCD and H.E. John Kufuor share a passion to improve food security and the health and nutrition of schoolchildren. At PCD we are privileged to be working with H.E. Kufuor on our HGSF initiative. H.E. Kufuor’s mission to improve food security has been acknowledged here at Des Moines and we wholeheartedly congratulate him on being awarded this much deserved World Food Prize."