Government of Ghana is implementing policies that will help instill the habit of cocoa consumption in the populace and will in the long run, create market for cocoa products in the country.
One of such policy initiatives is to provide a cup of cocoa drink to all Kindergarten and Primary School pupils in Ghana on every other school-going day that is three (3) times per week preferably Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), Mrs. Cynthia Mamle Morrison, who announced this noted that the nutritional intervention was a step towards boosting the intake of pupils across the country.
The initiative, is in line with the strategic aim of the Ghana school Feeding Program, (GSFP), to shore up school enrolment, attendance, retention and reduce short term hunger and malnutrition.
This initiative is also to inculcate the habit of cocoa consumption in basic school pupils in Ghana through the Ghana School Feeding Program and this will yield economic, health and nutritional benefits for children since they are in their formative years.
The Sector Minister who doubles as the Member of Parliament for Agona West gave the hint at a day’s stakeholders’ Regional workshop on Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) of the 2018 report of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) in Cape Coast.
It brought together Coordinators of the Program, representatives of Ghana Education Service( GES), Ghana Health Service (GHS), caterers, cooks and the media.
The workshop was organised by the Gender Ministry with support from the World Food Program (WFP) to disseminate the report findings of CBA, the benefits of GSFP and to agree on the way forward.
Mrs. Morison assured of several innovation interventions to be introduced by the Ministry to significantly boost the GSFP, particularly the quality of the meal served to the children.
It is also working to boost the welfare and financial management skills of the caterers to expand and sustain the programme to profit more Ghanaian kids.
Reiterating government’s commitment to the program, Mrs. Morison underscored the importance of the initiative stating that it would help in job creation, increase local food production and consumption and inure to health of the children.
In addition to that, the feeding grant of GH¢0.80 in 2016 has been increased to GH¢1.00 by government with negotiation ongoing to increase to GH¢1.50 per pupil and extend coverage from 62 to 70 percent by the end of 2020.
Mrs. Morrison enumerated some challenges confronting the smooth operations of the policy to include; delay in payment and the poor quality of the food served by some caterers and appealed to the private sector and development partners to sustain and expand the program.
A stakeholders meeting was held in Accra on August 14, 2019 to deliberate on the best options of available models to implement this project on critical areas such as packaging models, school selection criteria, waste management, sustainability, caterer models, supervision amongst others.
The meeting sought stakeholders input or into the modalities for the implementation of the project and stimulated stakeholders’ commitment to the project.
One of the main focus of the project is at selected districts in cocoa growing regions. The serving periods in the selected schools will be before classes begins that is the hours of 07:00 and 08.00 GMT.
Pupils are mandated to consume product in class/school and deposit package in a designated bin.
School authorities are to ensure proper disposal to avoid waste issues and bins will be provided for the disposal of the waste. The Official launch of the project is September 10, 2019.
The Ag. National Coordinator for the Ghana School Feeding Program, Mrs. Gertrude Quashigah has congratulated government for this laudable initiative saying government has so much passion for cocoa and this will be a source of joy to the farmers since they will witness their children benefit from their labour especially in the cocoa growing areas.
She said the Department of School Feeding who are the main implementers will support this project by giving technical knowledge and advice when needed through monitoring and evaluation of the entire exercise. Mrs. Quashigah added that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection will forge ahead to ensure that government’s dream comes to pass.
The Principal Public Affairs Director for COCOBOD, Benjamin Larweh, who represented the CEO of COCOBOD said they are fully committed in ensuring that this initiative comes to fruition and that the company has set aside some funding for the one year pilot programme even though they feel it may not be adequate to carry out the exercise. He therefore urged stakeholders to bring innovative ideas that will help them acquire additional funds to carry out this laudable initiative.
He also pleaded with stakeholders of the project to commit to their agreement to achieve positive results.
Participants for the entire project have been drawn from various Ministries, departments and private sectors which includes Ministries of Education, Health, Agriculture, Finance, Local Government and Rural Development; Gender, Children and Social Protection amongst others such as Ghana Cocoa Board, Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Health Service, University of Ghana Nutrition and Food Science Department and Food and Agriculture Organization.