Ghana government asked to invest more in agricultural research
Greater investment in agricultural research and development is the sure catalyst to help Ghana to attain and sustain food security, Dr Stella A. Ennin, the Director of the Crop Research Institute (CRI), has said.
CRI is under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) .
She said there is also the need for the country to develop requisite equipment, institute price protection policy like taxes, duties, while taking advantage of new and emerging Science Technology and Innovations technologies to aid the country’s food security measures.
Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
Speaking at a day’s seminar on the theme: “Is Ghana Food Secure,” organised by CSIR on Thursday in Accra, Dr Ennin said the country could have reduced money spent on food crop imports and channel same into developing agricultural production through research.
She said Ghana for instance spends $ 500 million on rice imports annually while another $ 100 million is spent to import tomatoes within a year.
The mission of CSIR since 1964 has been to become the force for accelerated social and economic development through examining, exploring and creating science and technology catalysts for public and private wealth creation.
Dr Ennin said CSIR and its affiliated Institutes have over the years been working to help sustain industry, while contributing to job creation, poverty reduction and women empowerment.
She said CSIR-CRI’s maize and cassava varieties have been widely used for brewing most of the beer brewed in the country as well as the ‘Fufu’ flours developed for industry and the Chorkor smoker fish smoking oven developed by the Food Research Institute.
She stated that researching into various crops and productions have so many advantages in aiding food sustainability as well as yielding financial gains to a country.
She said the annual social benefit from maize research in Ghana for instance, ranged from 4.8 million dollars to 84 million dollars from 1979 to 2005.
She said for every 100 dollar invested in maize research and extension, an additional 79 dollars was gained, and 58 dollars gained for cowpea, adding,” it is profitable to invest in Research and Development”
On the way forward, Dr Ennin said there is the need to accelerate agriculture modernisation to increase productivity, create jobs, increase incomes, and ensure food security over the medium term.
She said: “We should avoid over-reliance on donor support for research and development and rather set our priorities right as we strengthen seed value chains, and invest more in agricultural research and extension out-scaling as well as capacity building.”
She also called for the passing of the plant Breeders Bill into law to motivate research scientists to carry out more research into food production.
Dr Victor Agyeman, Director-General of CSIR said the seminar was held to enable researchers and academia and other stakeholders to assess and discuss food situation in the country and come out with solutions to ensure food security.
He said Ghana losses 400 million dollars annually through post-harvest losses, saying: “If we are able to handle post-harvest losses properly we will not need to spend a lot to sustain food security.
He said CSIR has been working over the years through various researches to increase food productivity in Ghana, explaining that food security also hinges on access, availability and nutrition.
Dr Agyeman said the three northern regions are the worst affected in terms of food insecurity and that 60 per cent of the people there face food insecurity.
He said however 95 per cent of Ghanaians are food secured and five per cent not food secured.
Dr Agyeman therefore called for research support in finding solution to post-harvest losses through the value chain that has been a bane to food security in the country.
Dr Mrs Rose Emma Mamaa Entsua-Mensah, the Deputy Director-General of CSIR, said the Council had contributed immensely to eradicating extreme hunger and poverty through agricultural interventions such as high-yielding, pest and disease resistant crop varieties and production practices resulting in from 43 per cent and 500 per cent increase in the production of some food and industrial crops which amount to billions of cedis.
She noted that CSIR is still committed to research as its core mandate and so it would collaborate with stakeholders to sustain food security.