An amount of over GH¢25 million Cedis has been disbursed for the payment of caterers engaged in the School Feeding Programme (GSFP) at all beneficiary districts that have duly submitted their returns to the National School Feeding Programme secretariat.
The amount, which will cover a total of 1,113, 928 pupils, was deposited at the Bank of Ghana last Monday for onward payment to the beneficiaries.
The National Co-ordinator of the programme, Mr Seidu Adamu, who announced this to the press in Tamale on Wednesday, however, expressed disappointment over the inability of about 10 districts to submit their returns since September last year.
According to Mr Adamu, the names of the recalcitrant districts had been submitted to the Ministry of Local Government to determine the appropriate sanctions against the defaulting districts. He, however, indicated that a supplementary budget would be prepared for those districts as and when they forwarded their returns.
“The delay in the payment is not the fault of neither the government nor the secretariat but from some of the assemblies that are not heeding to our advice,” Me Adamu said.
The National Co-ordinator bemoaned the lack of co-operation from some of the districts in the smooth running of the programme and urged assemblies and their respective desk officers to be up to their tasks and also submit reports on all school caterers who were not living up to their tasks, for whatever reasons, to the secretariat for immediate attention.
Mr Adamu spoke to a section 9f the media after addressing a two-day stakeholder planning workshop on facilitation of a smallholder farmer access to the GSFP ready market.
The four-year programme that is being facilitated by the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV ) is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The programme, which would be piloted in 20 districts in the country, is expected to benefit about 10,000 smallholder farmers including 30 per cent of women.
It is also to enable them derive increased and stable income through effective participation in the home grown school feeding programme.
According to Mr Adamu, since the inception of the GSFP in 2005, there had been a poor linkage with local farmers and indicated that the project would now enhance their collabora-tion for mutual benefit.
He said his secretariat was liaising with the Ghana Buffer Stock Company to purchase local rice for caterers under the GSFP.
In line with this, Mr. Adamu said, the districts had been directed to get their respective warehouses ready to receive their supplies by the close of this month.
“The strategy to feed school children with locally prepared food that is nutritionally adequate will focus spending on the local economy to provide ready market for farm output leading to wealth creation for the rural households at the communities,” the co-ordinator explained.
For her part, the national co-ordinator of the project at the SNV, Madam Fati Bodua Seidu, said the 7.5 million US dollars programme is being implemented in Ghana, Kenya and Mali where over a total of 78,000 farmers would benefit.
She said apart from improving livelihoods and incomes, it would also enhance procurement governance by promoting favourable public and private sector procurement policies.
The president of the Ghana Federation of Agricultural Producers, King David Amoah, described the intervention as timely and encouraging since it would increase incomes and create employment opportunities for farmers and the youth at the communities.