College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Nutrition & Food Science

THE DEPARTMENT OF NUTRITION FOOD SCIENCE / DIETETICS PROGRAM ENGAGE STUDENTS AND SCIENTISTS ON FOOD SECURITY IN AFRICA WITH HIGHLIGHTS ON GHANA

From right to left: Ambassador Islam Siddiqui; Emmy Simmon; behind Emmy: Dr. James Oehmke; Dr. Margaret Udahogora; Dr. Robert Jackson; Dr. Evelyn Cooper; Kwasi Bosompem

High powered speakers comprising of Ambassador Kwame Bawuah Edusei of the Edusei Foundation; Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, former Obama Administration Chief US Trade Negotiator in Agriculture; Emmy Simmons, former Assistant Administrator for Economic Growth, USAID; James Oehmke, Senior Food Security and Nutrition Advisor, USAID; with Dr. Robert Jackson, Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food (NFSC); Dr. Evelyn Cooper Acting Associate Dean of Agriculture Natural Resources; and Dr. Margaret Udahogora, Dietetics Program Director had a unique opportunity to interact and educate the students on global food security issues in Africa with a case study on Ghana.  Present at the event were faculty from University of Maryland, delegates from Howard University, UMD National 4-H Youth group and local community members. The event is a prelude to the University of Maryland/NFSC, Feed the Future and Food Security Study Abroad and humanitarian work in Ghana.

 

The event was organized and hosted by the Department of Nutrition and Food Science in College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and sponsored by Edusei Foundation.  The mission of the Foundation is to facilitate youth development in the United States, Ghana and the Diaspora in a positive manner to improve their knowledge, behavior and health. Dr. Margaret Udahogora convened and moderated the conference and the presentations are available on the UMD Adobe Connect system to reach the campus community. 

Dr. Cooper was giving a speech

Dr. Evelyn Cooper and Dr. Jackson welcomed the speakers and participants to the conference. In her address, Dr. Cooper tailed the event to the mission of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which is to develop knowledge and human capacity among the citizens of Maryland, the nation and the world.  She also reminded students that the event is in support of our vision to providing them with highest quality education that will continue to contribute to extending our knowledge and capability to other parts of the world.

Dr. Jackson was giving a speech

Dr.  Robert Jackson encouraged students in taking courses from other fields and especially becoming educated on global issues we all face. He reiterated the Department commitment to advance nutrition, food safety and health by innovative research, progressive and the highest quality education of undergraduate and graduate students, and creative outreach education disseminated to the citizens of Maryland, the United States and the global marketplace. 

In his speech read on his behalf, Ambassador Edusei supported UMD efforts to advance nutrition, food safety and health by innovative research and high quality education of undergraduate, graduate students and outreach education programs disseminated in the global marketplace including African Countries such as Ghana.  To ensure access to sufficient and nutritious food, there is a need to improve the integration of nutrition into national agriculture plans and have nutrition interventions planned with a budget. The Edusei Foundation has initiated programs to solve hunger and malnutrition. Recently the foundation donated tons of quality food to urban poor to alleviate hunger. Although there is an improved high growth and income in cities in Ghana, there is a parallel disparity seen in the pattern of poverty prevalence such as in the densely populated and underprivileged suburbs. At the end of his speech, he called upon the youth and leaders of tomorrow, to start now, be involved, become agents of change in worldwide interventions to achieve food security, a basic right to any human being, and which is built on three pillars of food availability, accessibility, and use by the global population. This is how we can have healthy and productive populations for economic development. 


Ambassador Islam Siddiqui stressed the demographic changes and the need to increase production of food by 70% in 2050 despite resource constrains. The increase in availability of food can focus on areas such as Africa and Asia where productivity gap is existent and there would be biggest gains. Markets and infrastructure development matters are needed to get food into the hands of consumers and preventing post-harvest loss. Populations in developing countries are not consuming a quality diet and poor food safety can pose problems to health and trade. Many people in developing countries spend more than 70% of their household income on food. In concluding his presentation, he highlighted the key messages as (i) the need to focus on the ability to grow more food by embracing technology and developing new ways of producing; (ii) access to food and removing trade barriers; (iii) preventing 30-35% food lost and making sure the food remain safe to use; (iv) political stability and democratic governments with rule of law, complying with trade agreements and international commitments.  

Dr. James Oehmke, traced the vision of the Feed the Future programs in Africa and Ghana in particular. His highlights included Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II), and Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP 2010-15) in Ghana and the various declarations (Maputo 2003 & Malabo 2014) that required commitments from African Head of States in spending 10% of their budget on agriculture. Feed the Future strategic action areas were reviewed as well strengthening systemic capacity including local ownership and alignment of programs.  Efforts have been made to include various partners in moving agriculture forward such as multilateral organizations, faith based community, civil society organizations, private sector and USA Universities. Systematic changes in all policy system to induce smallholder agriculture transformation were discussed. Importantly the three components of a policy systems were noted. These are institutions for formulating and implementing policy, policy agenda drawn from what a country is interested in promoting. The job is to find the solutions that are politically acceptable and really work.  Finally, mutual accountability that individual organizations make that are sufficient to accomplish the plan. 

Emmy Simmons reiterated that food security is part of human development and cannot be delinked from the issue of human development and global insecurity. In her address, Emmy Simmons clarified that food security is related to hunger, nutrition, poverty, resources and food safety, but they should not be used interchangeably as food security, which encompasses availability, access, use and stability.  There is need to focus on changing food system as a way of framing intervention to improve food security than focusing on a single crop, commodity or nutrient. It is not just about production or what is available in the market, but the whole food environment that will help determine whether people can in fact be food secure and have access to affordable, nutritious foods at every stage of life. The environment for diverse, adequate, safe diet requires consideration of food production, transformation, consumer demand, market and trade system, consumer purchasing power and other determinants of nutrition.  

 

Mr Kwasi Bosompem contributed to the panel engagement of students with a discussion on agricultural land use planning, and the need to balance preservation with smart growth and spatial planning.  He discussed some of the funding and limitation in implementing projects as well as opportunities.

 

 

The conference was concluded after the questions and answer session.

 

For access to the audio and written notes from the presentation, please email Dr. Margaret Udahogora at FeedTheFuture2015@gmail.com

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