About 20 million people are engaged in different forms of agriculture in West African cities, which support livelihoods and urban food supply. Despite its benefits, urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) remains in a state of laissez-faire without political support or consideration in urban planning. In 2006, long-term efforts, under the coordination of IWMI (see e.g. achievements of Project 5, MTP 2005-2007), resulted in positive signs for a change towards higher recognition in Ghana.
Since 2001, IWMI has been working on the significance, benefits and risks of UPA. These results fed into the global network of Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security (RUAF), where IWMI is responsible for Anglophone West Africa. In 2005, IWMI started using a multi-stakeholder process approach to facilitate the integration of UPA into the strategic plans of municipal authorities in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. A multi-stakeholder forum and policy seminar in Ghana in 2005, co-organized with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), resulted in the declaration of political support for UPA culminating in a statement of consensus. During the seminar, MoFA promised to institutionalize the recognition of the best national UPA farmer in the country. At the 2006 “Farmers Day” celebration, the national best urban and peri-urban farmer was honored for the first time in 22 years of “Farmers Day” celebrations. This recognition has come to stay in the nation. The Farmers Day is a national holiday where the President honors and celebrates Ghana’s most excellent farmers and fishermen. It is the major motivational event for the whole agricultural sector with prizes including cars and houses. In a concurrent effort, UPA irrigated agriculture has been recognized in Accra’s city planning, and it has been included as a form of ‘informal irrigation’ in the national irrigation policy which awaits cabinet approval.