In February 1972, barely a month after he came to power, Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and his National Redemption Council (NRC) launched Ghana’s most popular food programme. The aim of “Operation Feed Yourself” (OFY) was to make Ghana self-sufficient in food supply in order to break with the colonial past and correct the “image of a beggar nation”. Through widespread propaganda in newspapers, radio and television, Ghanaians were urged to engage in agriculture and contribute to the country’s food production. The government supported the programme with subsidized farm inputs, access to credit facilities and duty-free importation of agricultural machinery. What differentiated OFY from previous food programmes was the initial enthusiasm it created in the country, resulting in broad participation of the Ghanaian population. Thousands of Ghanaians took part in clearing land or helping harvest crops. Urban dwellers were drawn into backyard farming, and large-scale rice production in the northern regions increased substantially. In the first three years of OFY, the production of all key food and industrial crops rose. Ghana was officially declared self-sufficient in rice production in 1974. This led some authors to characterize OFY as Ghana’s Green Revolution.
Although OFY is well known and even fondly remembered among Ghanaians, extensive historical research on the programme has not been conducted to date. This Master’s thesis helps to fill this gap and thereby contributes to the scarce historical research on the Acheampong govern ment. By making accessible new sources from the Acheampong period (1972-78), this research shows how OFY was implemented, propagated and how Ghanaians responded to the programme. The sources on which the study is based consist of archival material from the Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD) in Accra and Cape Coast, selected media and booklets published by the Acheampong government. Based on personal letters from Ghanaian citizens to the government as well as readers’ opinions in the press, the study provides insight into the initial fervour and criticisms of the OFY and helps convey the atmosphere it created in the country. An analysis of government reports offers a broad evaluation of OFY by identifying the main constraints of the programme. The thesis investigates to what extent OFY was successful and how it was hampered by the world food crisis (1972-75) and the 1973 oil crisis, and the discussion further focuses on the question to what extent the government’s version of success of OFY, mainly disseminated through the state-controlled media, was congruent with other sources. Finally the research substantiates which segments of the Ghanaian population benefitted most from the policies connected to “Operation Feed Yourself” and what were the implications of Acheampong’s food programme on the country’s two most important agricultural branches, the cocoa and rice sector.
This thesis is written in English to reflect the language used in the original documentation and to be accessible to Ghanaian scholars and citizens.