The Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) is to institute an annual Ghana Science Congress (GSC) to guide the development of science and technology and their impact on the various sectors of the Ghanaian economy.
The Ministry would in addition foster and coordinate the development and diffusion of science and technology for use by the appropriate agencies.
Madam Shirley Ayitey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) announced this in a speech read for her by Professor S. K. Nutsugah, Director of the Savanna Agriculture Research Institute (SARI) at the 12th Biennial Workshop of the Ghana Science Association (GSA) in Tamale on Wednesday.
The workshop was on the theme: “Minimising post harvest losses as an effective poverty reduction strategy: the role of science and technology”.
Participants were engaged on topics such as: “Managing post harvest losses in fruits and vegetables, roots and tuber crops and grains and spices; the role of science and technology”.
Madam Ayitey said the first GSC would target the agriculture sector and would aim at coming out with pragmatic solutions to among other things, resuscitate the rice industry and double output of other grains particularly, maize, millet and sorghum.
It would also aim at tripling the production of roots and tubers, doubling the output of cocoa, reducing post harvest losses from 25 per cent to 10 per cent, improving on the traditional methods of preserving and storing farm produce and producing disease resistant coconut seedlings and supporting farmers to replant their devastated farms.
She emphasized the central role of science and technology in all spheres of national life and said it was in this regard that the NDC in its manifesto stated that it would establish two national science and technology “Theme Parks” in Cape Coast and the other in the Akwapim Ridge to develop and put into use practical solutions for specific problems.
The Sector Minister said post harvest losses in Ghana had been estimated as high as 10 to 30 per cent in cereals and 20 to 40 per cent in roots and tubers, while the percentage losses in fruits and vegetables was worrying, adding, this posed a significant threat to the country’s macroeconomic stability and overall development achievements.
Professor Sylvester Danuor, National President of the GSA, said the application of science and technology could significantly reduce post harvest losses and thereby increase agriculture productivity and in the process increase wealth and reduce rural poverty.
He therefore appealed to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to collaborate with stakeholders in the sector to streamline post harvest research interventions and technologies in the country and also see to the harmonization of all activities relating to post harvest issues.
He said there was also the need to adopt an effective communication strategy to reach the farmers with the relevant and appropriate technologies for use in post harvest management.
Mr. Sam Nasamu Asibgi, Deputy Northern Regional Minister, said the government had instituted interventions such as the training of over 90 per cent of the field staff of the MOFA in post harvest techniques, the rehabilitation of feeder roads, the introduction of pro-cocoon dryers and the adoption of the value chain approach to agriculture production and marketing.
He said the recent introduction of the National Buffer Stock Company to mobilize all farm products that have no attractive markets elsewhere was a strategy by the ministry to reduce post harvest losses.