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August 14, 2014

Ghanaians Study Nutrition Policy in Japan as Plan Takes Shape Back Home
JICA seminar offers Japan's experience for use in Ghana's national nutrition policy

photoGhananian seminar participants try out Japanese school lunch.

The cabinet of Ghana is on the verge of approving a national nutrition policy and a plan is being worked out to implement it. Subpar growth of children due to inadequate nutrition is a serious problem in Ghana.

So JICA invited eight managers from organizations involved in nutritional improvement as part of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement to Japan for a seminar June 16 to 26. Participants were from the National Development Planning Commission, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Ghana Health Service, the Ghana Education Service, and nongovernmental organizations. The seminar, entitled “Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) By Public-Private Partnership Approach,” aimed to put Japan's expertise in nutrition education and promotion initiatives (shokuiku) to use in the planning of Ghana's nutrition improvement policies.

On June 18, participants visited Keisen University in Tama, Tokyo, where they got hands-on experience in organic agriculture at the school's educational farm. In the afternoon, they visited a Tama School Lunch Center cooking facility and heard an explanation of the evolution, current practices and a legal basis of school lunch programs in Japan.

On June 24, they visited the Kawasaki Plant of Ajinomoto Co., Inc., which carried out the Preparatory Survey on BOP (Base of the Pyramid) Business on Nutrient Enriched Food during Weaning Period in Ghana with JICA's assistance. Koko, a traditional weaning food of Ghana, is a fermented corn porridge that lacks the protein and micronutrients required for infants to grow properly. So Ajinomoto and the University of Ghana have jointly developed KOKO plus, a nutritional supplement for infants, and they are working to popularize it.

At the end of the training, Odotei Ebenezer Odoi-Okpoti, director of the Development Policy Division of Ghana's National Development Planning Commission, said, "The training gave us many ideas for Ghana's nutritional improvement plan.”

He said it is important for his commission to play a leadership role like that of Japan's Cabinet Office. He added that he learned that for a multisector approach like Japan's to succeed, it will be important to clarify the roles of the institutions involved.

JICA is currently engaged in cooperation in Ghana in the field of maternal and child health, and it is considering future assistance related to nutrition.

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