Monday, July 12, 2010


I remember a few months back, I wrote a facebook status message extolling the virtue of fresh corn on the cob. My status went something like this – ‘Forget Mars, Snickers and M & M’s – I’d rather have boiled Corn-on-the-cob and coconut any day. You see, I was comparing the snack culture we had in Ghana before colonization and the one we have now and their respective effects on our waistlines. Did I hear you ask if we had a snack culture? Sure we did. Now, we’d call them finger food but roasted plantains, boiled/roasted corn-on-the-cob with coconut, roasted cocoyam/yam with salted fish or palm oil are all snacks – and healthy ones at that.

Feeling rather snug at having re-affirmed my Ghanaian pride on the World Wide Web for all to see; I walked about puffed with pride the whole day until I spoke with a friend of mine later in the day. Mr. X was taking me to church that very evening. Corn was in season and as usual, there was no shortage of street vendors selling the boiled version of this delicacy. The roasted version was not so popular with street vendors because they had to be hot and soft to be enjoyed and they cooled rapidly and became hard when taken from the heat source. I asked him if he enjoyed eating this and I got an insight that had never occurred to me.

Apparently Mr. X was very passionate about the sale of corn-on-the-cob when corn was in season. You see, every cob of corn contains hundreds of corn kernels – seeds that could have produced more corn if planted. Every year, we boil and roast possibly millions of these cobs (you do the math) and then, we turn around and worry about food security. Ask yourself this – even in America (one of, if not the largest corn producers in the world), how often do you see people eating fresh corn? Personally, I cannot speak much about this, never actually having been there before. However, if what I see on TV is anything to go by, it’s served only at thanksgiving and special occasions like that.

He said if he had money, he would buy tons of corn when they were in season and store them in a silo for re-sale when they were out of season. Apparently, the price of a bag of maize in-season and out-of-season differed by as much as GHC70 (about 45 dollars). Imagine that! And we gaily eat corn-on-the cob without a thought to food security. And we enjoy this delicacy without thinking of going into farming ourselves. He said he had started working on a farm and I realized how far we have to go.

Next time you eat corn-on-the cob, think what you are doing or can do to help improve food security in Ghana, and Africa for that matter. Apparently, for a nation which has over half of its people employed by agriculture, our food security situation is nothing to write home about. I am writing this because corn is in season. Think about it. It sure tastes good. What are we doing to make sure it will always be there?

Think Food Security is irrelevant? Check out these stats

Hunger Stats
Every year, authors, journalists, teachers, researchers, schoolchildren and students ask us for statistics about hunger and malnutrition. To help answer these questions, we've compiled a database of useful facts and figures on world hunger.

• 1.02 billion people do not have enough to eat - more than the populations of USA, Canada and the European Union;
(Source: FAO news release, 19 June 2009)
• 907 million people in developing countries alone are hungry;
(Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2008)
• Asia and the Pacific region is home to over half the world’s population and nearly two thirds of the world’s hungry people;
(Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2008)
• More than 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women;
(Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2006)
• 65 percent of the world's hungry live in only seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia.
(Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2008)

• More than 70 percent of the world's 146 million underweight children under age five years live in just 10 countries, with more than 50 per cent located in South Asia alone;
(Source: Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition, UNICEF, 2006)
• 10.9 million children under five die in developing countries each year. Malnutrition and hunger-related diseases cause 60 percent of the deaths;
(Source: The State of the World's Children, UNICEF, 2007)
• The cost of undernutrition to national economic development is estimated at US$20-30 billion per annum;
(Source: Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition, UNICEF, 2006)
• One out of four children - roughly 146 million - in developing countries are underweight;
(Source: The State of the World's Children, UNICEF, 2007)
• Every year WFP feeds more than 20 million children in school feeding programmes in some 70 countries. In 2008, WFP fed a record 23 million children.
(Source: WFP School Feeding Unit)



  1. hmm...
    Corn-on-the cob is is also enjoyed in the states as well along side corn flakes.
    I don't think the problem is our snack culture. If we planted enough corn and stored enough of it for the lean season we can still enjoy our mouth-organ and such snacks. I'm not certain about this but i'm quite sure that there is a rice season in China. But barring all climatic events, the Chinese are able produce enough rice for china and the world.

    I suggest we learn from the Bible in this case Joseph's foresight...