The Ghana School Feeding Programme has enrolled 1.6 million schoolchildren in the 216 districts in the country.
Also plans have been initiated to scale up the beneficiaries to two million in the 2013/2014 academic year.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Oppong Fosu, in an address read on his behalf, said the concept was to provide children in public primary schools and kindergarten one hot nutritious meal, prepared with locally grown foodstuffs, when school is in session.
This was at the maiden Ghana Home Grown School Feeding National Learning Event held on the theme, “School Feeding Procurement for Enhanced Small-holder Farmer inclusion: opportunities, challenges and lessons”.
Mr Fosu expressed concern that while the objective was to spend 80 per cent of the feeding cost in the local economy, the procurement of food crops from smallholder farmers in the beneficiary communities, in a planned and co-ordinated manner, remained a challenge.
According to the minister, the need to develop interventions and work with local farmers to boost domestic agriculture production through school feeding had been emphasised in various studies and reviews and recognised by the government, development partners and stakeholders.
The event sought to address the school feeding procurement and national grain reserves and how small holder farmers could be included and how social accountability could stimulate governance and transparency in the delivery of services for home grown school feeding.
A representative of the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Mr Quirin Laumans, said the organisation had provided advisory services to the GSFP since its inception by developing strategies, social accountability and also piloted some interventions which linked local partners to the GSFP.
He said in September 2011, with funding by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the SNV initiated the project which was being implemented in three countries, Kenya, Ghana and Mali from 2011 to 2015, and it has the aim to demonstrate ways in which smallholder farmers can participate effectively in the structured market represented by NSFP in the three countries.