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Going Straight to the Farm to Help Feed the Hungry

Building relationships with farmers to get food to those who need it most.

Jason Woods ― Managing Editor, The Global FoodBanking Network

Ibrahim Jibril of Food For All Africa offloads food boxes to distribute in Ghanas Volta. (Photo Credit The Global FoodBanking Network, Julius Ogundiran)

On a warm, cloudy day in Ghana’s coastal savanna, Isaac Agbovie expertly navigates the dips and divots of a rural road atop a slender motorcycle. He’s on his way to meet his mother at her farm, but when he arrives there’s little time for pleasantries. For Agbovie, this is a work trip, and he quickly begins to help her harvest watermelons and green beans and place them in crates.

Hired in July 2023, Agbovie is one of five field coordinators for Food For All Africa, among the first food banks established in West Africa. The new employees are part of the food bank’s strategy to improve the nutritional content of the food they provide.

Agbovie’s mother, Victoria, has been giving produce to Food For All Africa since April 2023, and it was her idea for her son to apply for the job in the first place. Now he spends his days building relationships with both small- and large-scale farmers, all in the name of getting food to the people who need it most.

Farmers in the Greater Accra region call Agbovie know they have healthy produce that would otherwise go to waste, sometimes because the produce’s size might not fit buyers’ expectations due to climactic changes in rain patterns.

Moving Quickly with Volunteers and Equipment

Because produce perishes quickly, Agbovie recruits local volunteers to help harvest, thanking them with a hearty lunch, and arranges for a Food For All Africa refrigerated truck to load up the day’s haul and head to a warehouse in Shai Hills, about an hour away.

There, a team of seven staffers unload the watermelons and other produce, which is cleaned, and sorted before it’s stored. Some might be made into juice and frozen, and the rest of it will be packed for distribution.

Food For All Africa employees join community members to offload food boxes for the Fuveme community in Ghanas Volta region. (Photo Credit The Global FoodBanking Network, Julius Ogundiran)

“For us as food bankers, we understand that what we offer is more than food,” said Ellijah Amoo Addo, founder and executive director of Food For All Africa. “We become a bridge.

“The language we’re using is the food. But the identity we’re building is community. And for me, that’s the beauty of food banking.”

About 45 percent of the food produced in Ghana goes to waste, while about 40 percent of children in the country go hungry, according to Addo. Determined to turn this around, Addo and his team created the Agricultural Food Loss Recovery Project in 2022 to reduce food loss in Ghana’s agricultural sector by 40 percent in the next five years.

  • Food For All Africa workers prepare dry food for distribution at their Shai Hills warehouse. (Photo Credit The Global FoodBanking Network, ulius Ogundiran)

The Rockefeller Foundation Helps Make it Work

Funding from The Rockefeller Foundation and The Global FoodBanking Network accelerated the program’s growth, allowing for the purchase of two all-terrain cycles so field coordinators can access hard-to-reach communities, as well as the 1.4-ton capacity refrigerated truck and the new warehouse, which can store up to 325 tons of produce and 56 tons of dried food.

In 2022, less than 1 percent of the food Food For All Africa recovered came directly from farms. Just a year later, 28 percent of their food was sourced from the agricultural supply chain.

“Since we received the funding, it ignited a light for us,” Addo said. “We’ve been able to provide a more nutritious, health-focused support system to those we serve. And it also helps reduce food loss and waste. Above all, it helps us support malnourished families and children.”