Explaining Success in Reducing Under-Nourishment Numbers in Ghana
The FAO Food Security measure shows that the number of under-nourished Ghanaians has fallen from 64 to 12 percent between 1979-1981 and 1998-2000. Since income distribution is assumed to have remained constant the change is due entirely to increased food availability. The paper shows that most of the increase in the DES was explained by an expansion in maize, cassava, yam and plantain production. The production increase is mostly due to acreage expansion which in turn can be attributed to the improved economic environment and market access for farmers. Improved varieties did help raise yields for maize and cassava quite substantially and helped raise output, particularly in the 1990s. Much of the reduction in under-nourishment was driven by increased cassava production and we note that a break in the series in 1991 throws some doubt on the usefulness of using the data to draw comparison between 1979-1981 and 1998-2000. The reduction in hunger was driven by economic growth which raised the incomes of many Ghanaians. In particular public sector and private formal sector employees and export farmers benefited from the complete turnaround in the macroeconomic environment and performance. Fundamentally this turnaround could not have happened without the political will to implement policies that were economically painful for many Ghanaians and which met with significant political opposition. While food supply kept up with increased demand, the incidence of poverty remains particularly high for food farmers who, as a group, saw only a marginal improvement in welfare in the 1990s. For the same time period poverty also stagnated or increased in the Northern and Upper regions were most farmers produce food crops. The available data shows that the food-poor are increasingly concentrated in distinct groups and regions which did not benefit from economic growth. This polarization of inequality and poverty makes targeted policies and projects to raise nutritional levels and promote pro-poor growth desirable. Other indicators of food-poverty and under-nutrition suggest that while Ghana made progress in reducing hunger the achievements have not been as spectacular as suggested by FAO’s measure of under-nourishment. Or, to turn this around, the evidence would suggest that nationally food availability is no longer the key constraint, rather economic access is.
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- Demery, Lionel & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "Macroeconomic Adjustment and Poverty in Africa: An Emerging Picture," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 11(1), pages 39-59, February.
- Badiane, Ousmane & Shively, Gerald E., 1998. "Spatial integration, transport costs, and the response of local prices to policy changes in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 411-431, August.
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