When we use the term food security, we are speaking of people’s ability to provide food for themselves and their families on a regular basis. As the World Health Organization explains, households that are food secure have enough nutritious food for every member to live a healthy, active life.
In the rural parts of Northern Ghana where NEA and GRID work, food security has been elusive for families. Many households depend directly on their farms for their livelihoods, and uncertain weather patterns could plunge them and their entire communities into severe hunger and even starvation. Less than half of the households in a community might own a goat or a sheep that would provide them some additional security in the case of a food shortage. Of those animals, almost half in a given community would be diseased and unfit for reselling or eating.
GRID and NEA’s food security activities are designed to do several things:
- increase the quantity of food available, especially to very vulnerable households, by providing starter inputs (such as seeds or goats) and training
- increase the quality of food by testing alternative crops and animals, modeling results, and sharing knowledge
- increase the diversity of food by planting a variety of crops, establishing fish ponds, and raising several kinds of suitable animals (such as goats, sheep, cows, turkey, ostrich, and emus)
NEA has a model farm on which it tests and demonstrates the use of different crops and techniques for growing them. The ability to show people the difference that varieties or approaches can make is very important in enabling them to adopt different practices on their own farms.
NEA also grows certified seed for the region’s farmers.
NEA has a fish hatchery where it raises fingerlings to stock local fish ponds. We also have helped eleven villages construct community fish ponds, which provide a sustainable source of protein for residents. NEA continues to train community members in the management of these important food sources.
NEA provides people with starter animals – such as goats – for small household herds, and then trains them topics of animal care. NEA is also improving a breed of cattle that can withstand the region’s climate. Recent additions to our animal husbandry program include ostriches, pigs, and turkeys.