Achieving food security through local governance (Richard Agyepong)

Food security is a major developmental issue in Ghana. Food security is considered to exist “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 2006). Food security as an outcome of the food system – i.e. the entire chain of producing, processing, packaging, distributing, and consuming - is threatened in Ghana by seasonal and unstable domestic food production, high food prices, high inflation, low household income, and rapid urbanisation. These threats could be ameliorated through leadership strategies aimed at strengthening and stabilising the food system. From 1957, successive Ghana governments sought to provide this leadership in a top-down manner without much success. However, with the coming into effect of the decentralisation and local government system in Ghana since 1988, the situation has not changed.

This research focuses on why this is and how local leadership can improve the local food system and how it may ensure food security in Ghana? It does so by focusing on three relations: (1) It analyses the role of local leadership in relation to national and global governance institutions (2); The relation between the two systems of local leadership that exist in Ghana: the formal local government system through decentralisation, and the traditional authority system which is a non-state actor exercising informal authority; and (3) the relation between the community and the food system and the way local governance can empower the community to strengthen the food system.