Ghanaian officials announced this month that Ghana has achieved “zero hunger,” and are crediting this success to some of the policies of former Ghanaian president John Kufuor. The Zero Hunger Challenge — a UN initiative that is supported by various Non-Governmental Organizations and foundations — aims to eliminate hunger through investments in agriculture, rural development, social protection, and equality of opportunity. In particular, the challenge aims to achieve the following goals:
- Zero stunted children
- 100% access to adequate food all year round
- Sustainable food systems
- 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
- Zero loss or waste of food
While it is not clear whether Ghana has met all of these specific benchmarks, it has made significant strides in increasing agricultural production, tackling deforestation, and increasing its per capita GDP, which has increased from $275 in 2001 to $1,850 in 2013. A number of Kufuor’s policies are cited by the Thompson Reuters Foundation as reasons for this success:
- Tax Policy. When Kufuor’s government took office in 2001, it reduced taxes on cocoa, a key crop in Ghana, from 60% to 40%. This lower tax burden allowed farmers to use the additional funds to purchase pesticides and fertilizer needed to increase agricultural production, which quickly doubled over four years and increased government tax revenues for infrastructure investment.
- Deforestation mitigation. The Ghanaian government allowed landless families and unemployed people to take over deforested land, in exchange for planting crops interspersed with new trees. This system allowed residents to farm the land and earn income when the trees were harvested, while preventing additional land from being logged.
- Expanding the value chain in Ghana. Kufuor’s government made a concerted effort to attract top cocoa processors to Ghana, so that Ghana could not only grow, but also process, cocoa.
- Political commitment at the highest level of government. Finally, one representative of Ghana’s Food and Agriculture Organization credited the strong political commitment to this effort at the highest level of government, noting that the government “subsidized production, put resources into boosting capacity and invested in providing services to farmers.”
Indeed, these efforts did not go unnoticed. In 2011, Kufuor was awarded the World Food Prize for his efforts to improve food security and reduce poverty through public- and private-sector initiatives. The list of Kufuor’s achievements at that time included helping Ghana to become the first sub-Saharan African country to cut in half the proportion of its people who suffer from hunger, and the creation of the Ghana School Feeding Program to provide nutritious meals to school children ages 4 to 14. Ghana now as seen as role model for other countries, such as India, which are starting their own zero hunger campaigns.