Do you recall the year of ‘83 in Ghana?
It was the year of the harshest famine ever to be recorded in the nation’s history. Stories are told of how uncooked mounds of ‘kenkey‘ were distributed to long queues of people- queues that would not move for hours. Stories are also told of how people would eat unripe fruits and even leaves just to stave off their hunger. The year was one of the nation’s darkest times and a reminder of how fast and how hard we can fall if we are unprepared for the future.
Before the colonial era, our food came from local sources within the home country. We were a people dependent on agricultural products cultivated by our own hands. Everyone owned either a farmland or a backyard garden that served as a food source. Entire families would either work on these farms for hours a day or contract people to cultivate plants and livestock on these lands. Food was always fresh but choices were limited to what was cultivated on the farm. To avoid monotony and bring variety to what we ate we began bartering the food we had for our neighbours’.
Today because of the incidence of technology in food processing and production, there is a wide range of food we can choose from. Some pre-cooked, others dehydrated. bbThere is a special group of people known as food technologists that make this possible. Food technologists and engineers work on discovering new ways to improve existing food products, enhancing nutritional content, shelf life and safety. A lot of focus is put on nutrition, preservation, convenience, safety and consistent high-quality standards.
For this reason, food is now convenient and easy to prepare. Anyone can cook- from workers who are too busy to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, to bachelors and kids who have no experience with cooking.
A lot of work still needs to be done. Currently, in the Ghanaian fresh food market, the supply of food does not fully cater to the level of demand. The season determines the type, price as well as the quantity of food supplied in the market. The right to food is a basic human right, however, food is priced so high that a lot of people often go to bed hungry. Now the frequency, quality and type of food you eat is determined by how much money you have. We need to get to the point where food production is no longer seasonal but available all year round and at a reasonable price.
We also need to capitalise on producing and processing our horticultural products for regional, national and international markets to generate revenue for the country.
Salvaging the Future
Weather Analysis Software
Farmers should adopt the use of weather analysis software to monitor weather patterns, and soil testing kits to monitor nitrogen and phosphorus levels to increase farm efficiency. It will ensure that farmers are able to locate the most suitable areas for planting.
Drones should also be used by farmers to monitor crop yields as well as the productivity of areas, especially for vast farmlands. With drones, farmers can pinpoint the exact location of diseased plant(s) or store information about the land.
This may sound like a far-fetched idea for farming in Ghana, however, it may be our best option. In automated agriculture, the whole farming process (planting, monitoring and harvesting) has been automated from start to finish. According to Futurism, Hands Free Hectare (HFH) a UK based company has successfully tested this module.
Naa Shidaa(CBT Level 1 Writer)
Nandhu Kumar (@nandhukumarndd)