Experts meet in Ghana to discuss regional food security
The goal is to promote faster agricultural growth to serve as a catalyst for accelerated economic development.
The programme, hosted by the Crops Research Institute (CRI) has brought together researchers, scientists, food processors and farmers from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Togo, Mali, Nigeria, Cote d’ Ivoire and Benin.
The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP)-Ghana is facilitating the meeting, sponsored by jointly by the World Bank and West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development in Africa (WECARD/CORAF), an international agricultural research-based organization.
“Research in root and tuber crops value chain development: the hope for food security in the ECOWAS sub-region”, is the theme.
Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in-charge of Crops, hailed the effort to pool human resources in the sub-region to define the research and development agenda for root and tuber crops.
This, he noted, was significant because these constituted a substantial percentage of the agricultural gross domestic product in the sub-region.
The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates that the root and tubers are a component of the diet of about 2.2 million people in the region, contributing to the sustenance of the animal feed and starch industries.
The Deputy Minister said in Ghana, cassava had risen from a rural crop into an industrial one with the per capita consumption, constituting 150 kilogrammes per year.
Given its socio-economic benefits to the region, Dr. Alhassan underlined the need to identify, plan and implement common research programmes to address problems in the root and tuber crops value chain.
Dr. Stella Ama Ennin, Director of the CRI, said it provides the unique opportunity to plan together the future cassava, cocoyam, sweet potato and yam development as a major contribution towards ending poverty, hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition.
The meeting would focus on issues relating to crop management and improvement, biotechnology, value addition and participatory research and extension approaches.
She spoke of the determination of the CRI to become a regional centre of excellence in research in the sub-region to lead efforts at developing agriculture in the sub-region.