The Director of Operations of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP), Mrs Doris Utuka Gaba has encouraged soybean farmers in the five regions of the north and other parts of Ghana to increase their production to support the programme.
Speaking at a regional capacity training for caterers, cooks and district nutrition officers of the GSFP at Tumu in the Sissala East municipality, Mrs Gaba said that the growing of soybean by farmers in the various regions will help the caterers get enough soybean for cooking, which will serve as protein for the pupils in the various schools.
According to her, the GSFP management was enforcing the government’s home-grown school feeding policy, which requires the use of foods produced by local farmers.
Mrs Gaba encouraged the farmers to make their farm produce available at all times.
The training programme is being funded by the World Food Programme (WFP) with technical support from the Partnership for Child Development (PCD).
According to her, the GSFP will continue to work with the local farmers to create the needed market for them.
She again told the caterers not to stop using fish or meat for the preparation of meals for the pupils. “It is very important to use the TSP, and you can still add some ‘Keta School Boys’ or fish or eggs to the meal so that the children can enjoy,” she said.
The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Sissala East in the Upper West Region, Mr Karim Nanyua revealed that soybean production is the main occupation of about 95 per cent of the inhabitants in the area, but added that the lack of a ready market for the produce remains a major setback to the farmers.
The MCE commended the GSFP for restoring hope to the local soybean farmers in the various regions.
Mr Nanyua expressed confidence that the introduction of soybean to the caterers would empower the local farmers economically.
The Programme Officer in charge of Agriculture at the GSFP, Mr Seth Offei said his unit will ensure that the soybean farmers in Sissala East, and, for that matter the entire region, are linked with YEDENT Agro Processing Company for the supply of raw materials.
He explained that the GSFP is encouraging the use of soy products which can be found locally because caterers, over the years, have complained about the small amount of money given them for the preparation of meals for the pupils.
“Our main challenge is that the caterers have said that the money we give them is not enough and we are also very strict that they should provide them [the pupils] with a balanced diet; so, we have to look for alternative sources that are local and are available in people’s own homes and communities so that with the little that we give them, they can still give the best to the children. So, no, we are not asking caterers to stop using fish and meat,” Mr Offei explained.