The Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, is optimistic about addressing challenges related to feeding students at the basic and senior high school levels.
According to the minister, the initiation of the National Service Scheme’s farming project is one of the most effective ways to ensure the sustainability of critical government programs, including the School Feeding Program and the Free Senior High School initiative.
The National Service Scheme (NSS) has embarked on large-scale cultivation of rice, maize, and soybeans, and has also ventured into fish farming. They have successfully harvested over 500 bags of maize, which will soon be delivered to the Education Ministry for distribution to various schools.
Speaking to journalists after visiting the NSS farm located in the Ashanti region, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum noted that he is confident that this effort, in conjunction with the expansion of school farming initiatives, will play a vital role in securing the continuity of the government programs.
“I think the whole idea of what the executive director of the National Service said was that it would support the school feeding program. You see, with the school feeding program, you can reduce costs when you get products from the farm. Literally, you’re buying at warehouse prices, wholesale prices, so the items bought here would be cheaper than what you buy from the market, reducing your cost of production. It also reduces the cost of preparing the meals and makes the project more sustainable because you can feed the children with more, with less money, and they will get more for less.
The same thing applies to the Free Senior High School program. Even though we are going to buy the produce, we are buying at wholesale prices, and therefore, it will lead to a situation where we are reducing the cost of feeding students. We are also supporting the set-up of school farms, and that together will create an opportunity for the sustainability of our programs, whether it’s feeding students at the high school level, the one hot meal for day students, and three meals for boarding students.”
The NSS has assigned some of its personnel to help cultivate a 4,000-acre plot of land, with plans to utilize a total of 20,000 acres to help address food security concerns in the country.
After a visit to the farm by the Education Minister and his team, Osei Assibey Antwi, the Executive Director of the NSS, expressed strong optimism about utilizing NSS farms to combat food scarcity issues in schools when speaking to journalists.
“The National Service is an agency under the Ministry of Education and by extension, the National Service is a governmental institution. Therefore, if the government is supporting us to grow maize, rice, and soybeans, then the end result is also going to support government projects and government programs. The government programs it is going to support are the school feeding and the free Senior High School. That is where we want to channel our support to.”
He further noted that his outfit also seeks to support poultry farmers across the country with some farm produce to ensure the sustainability of the poultry sector.
“That is not to say these (school feeding and free SHS) are the only two areas we are envisaging because as of now, we even have an MoU signed with the poultry farmers association. So, we also have them that we will also be supporting them. So, we will be producing for Ghana as a whole.”
Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi also noted that adequate measures have been put in place to ensure the sustainability of the NSS farms initiative.