Imperial College London

Bill Gates sees how school meals scheme benefits Ghanaian farmers

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Bill Gates

Imperial's Partnership for Child Development connects schools and local farmers to provide home grown meals for children.

During a recent visit to Ghana, Bill Gates joined the Partnership for Child Development (PCD) to spend a day with the smallholder farmers, teachers and caterers to better understand the issues and opportunities presented by Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF).

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been supporting the development of government-led, HGSF programmes since 2009. These nationally-owned programmes enable schools to procure the ingredients for their school meals from local smallholder farmers. The benefits of programmes such as the Ghana School Feeding Programmes (GSFP) are felt by schoolchildren and farmers alike with children getting free nutritious hot meals while the farmer gets access to a regular market, providing a win-win for both education and economic development.

To see the impact of HGSF on local communities for himself, Bill Gates travelled with the PCD, which receives funding from the Gates Foundation, to meet with local smallholder farmers and representatives of the Ghana School Feeding Programme to discuss issues including market access, crop storage facilities and links between the farmers and school caterers.

Daniel Mumuni, PCD’s West Africa Regional Director, said: “It was a real delight to accompany Mr Gates in discussions with community members involved in school feeding. As a businessman speaking among others, he was able to relate to the farmers and caterers he met, holding in-depth discussions on topics such as supply chains, product storage and credit access.

“The support that his foundation provides is in a very direct way improving the capacity of governments across Africa to provide effective school feeding programmes which benefit the whole community.”

During the visit to the Kwabenya-Atomic region of Accra, Mr Gates was taken on a farm tour by local farmer Jacob, who makes his living by selling his crops to GSFP caterers.

“The school feeding programme is very good for me because I can sell my crop direct from my farm without having to spend extra money on transporting it to market,” Jacob said. “I am proud that it is my produce that is being used to feed the school children.”

Mr Gates later visited the nearby Atomic Primary School to see school feeding first hand and speak with the headmistress about the positive effects that school feeding had on enrolment and pupil attention. He also joined in a lively discussion with the school feeding caterers who, under contract from the GSFP, supply the cooked food to the school children.

PCD, together with development partners including the World Bank, the UN World Food Programme and SNV, have been providing technical advice to the GSFP to support the Ghanaian Government’s plans to extend the reach and impact of the programme .

Following the visit Mr Gates met with Ghanaian President John Mahama who commended the Gates Foundation on the contributions it had made to boosting the nutritional needs of children and increasing school enrolment through its support of the GSFP.

Home Grown School Feeding on Twitter: @HGSFglobal

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Francis Peel

Francis Peel
School of Public Health

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