New Garden Campaign to Feed Ghana Cities

In the near future, over 80 percent of the world’s food will be consumed in cities. Today, in Ghana’s urban areas, over 3.5 million people face a future without food security. In response, Solidaridad, together with Home Gardening Ghana, an online community with over 250,000 members, has launched a new campaign to promote the importance of urban farming as a resilient new source of quality food and nutrition for the country’s growing population.

Solidaridad’s Bossman Owusu helps to launch the Home Gardening Initiative in Ghana during an event in December, 2023.

A flagship food security project in Ghana, the Home Gardening Initiative (HGI), is Solidaridad’s response to the increasing rates of food insecurity within Ghana, and the project addresses the growing concern over the lack of nutritional food available to households in urban areas.

Inspiring Urban Dwellers

The programme connects individuals and urban communities with knowledge, resources and comprehensive training in good gardening practices. The new initiative is designed to empower and inspire home gardeners living in cities, while also encouraging women and men to play a proactive role in the effort to secure their nutritional needs through locally grown food sources. 

At the HGI two-day launch event in December of 2023, which was organized around the theme of Working Together to Grow Safe and Nutritious Foods, participants met in Ghana’s capital city of Accra to deepen collaborative partnerships in an ongoing effort to meet the food security needs of the country.

Panelists discuss the benefits of gardening within cities as part of the Home Gardening Initiative.

The conference brought together home gardeners, industry experts, development investors, farm input vendors and service providers. With featured exhibitions and educational workshops, plus a number of panel discussions, the launch provided valuable insights and learning opportunities, while also serving as a networking platform for event participants. 

Tackling Food Security

Currently, the Home Gardening Initiative functions as a pilot programme in the greater Accra region, but Solidaridad expects the project to expand to other regions within Ghana. This strategic approach underscores Solidaridad’s commitment to addressing food security challenges across the country.

With an ever-increasing urban population of which an estimated 3.6 million Ghanaians are food insecure, home gardening can play a crucial role in improving food security when individuals grow the vegetables they consume.

Bossman Owusu, Country Representative for Solidaridad in Ghana

Owusu also indicated that besides providing healthy foods, home gardens in urban areas create learning opportunities for children to develop a familiarity with plants and animals and they also provide a therapeutic antidote to the widespread stress of city living.

Bossman Owusu, Country Representative for Solidaridad in Ghana, reviews the possibilities for urban agriculture.

Safe Nutrition for the People

As the founder of Home Gardening Ghana, crop scientist Dr. Frank Ackah is well aware of the challenges that home gardeners face in a sprawling city environment. While there are many factors which contribute to poor nutrition among city households, he notes that gardeners who grow vegetables often live in areas with soil and water that have been polluted with chemical contaminants. These pollutants pose real health risks, and when combined with food-born illnesses, it is no wonder that consumers hesitate to buy produce from urban vegetable producers.

A lot of people are now more conscious about their health and are now more interested in growing their vegetables. The initiative will provide a solution to concerns about vegetable sources.

Dr. Frank Ackah, Home Gardening Ghana

The Home Gardening Initiative promotes circular practices such as composting and the recycling of domestic wastes for gardening, and as part of the programme, participants will work to mitigate the health risks from pollution and foodborne illnesses. Dr. Ackah believes this holistic approach will make a positive contribution to the health of urban communities and the environment.

The Home Gardening Initiative promotes the cultivation of nutritious food sources.

A Shared Vision

At the launch event, Naomi Tuinstra, Second Secretary at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, described her country’s work to encourage individuals and communities to cultivate their own sustenance. She noted the Netherlands’ committed effort to promote sustainable practices, knowledge sharing, and information dissemination in order to enhance food security at the grassroots level.

Ghana’s agricultural landscape holds immense potential, and this initiative served as a beacon of hope, offering tangible solutions to enhance local food production.

Naomi Tuinstra, Second Secretary at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Tuinstra said the embassy recognises the critical role that small-scale, community-based initiatives play in the effort to revitalize local food production. She remarked that the HGI project aligns with the Netherlands’ commitment to ensure that everyone has access to quality foods and nutritious sustenance.

Naomi Tuinstra, Second Secretary at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, meets with Bossman Owusu and helps to launch of the Home Gardening Initiative.

For his part, Dr. Solomon Gyan Ansah, the Director of Crop Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, emphasized the importance of home gardening. He remarked, “As the Ghanaian population grows, there is the need to continuously increase food production and buffer stocks to meet the growing demand and cope with the volatilities in food production and prices.”

Dr. Ansah sees the HGI development of urban gardens as one part of Ghana’s broader effort to prevent famine and boost food security, all while raising nutrition levels across the country. He describes the HGI project as a complement to the second phase of the government’s flagship programme Planting for Food and Jobs. Together with Doctor Ansah, Solidaridad hopes that the new gardens will provide families and households access to fresh produce, which will reduce their dependence on expensive processed food that is often less healthy than cultivated vegetables.

Acting Now

The Home Gardening Initiative is part of the Acting Now programme and is funded by the Government of the Netherlands. Implemented in partnership with Solidaridad, the programme supports producers as they build resilient farms and food systems which foster independence, respond to economic challenges, and prepare urban populations for future climate change impacts.