CSIR considers diversifying Ghana’s agriculture to stimulate economy
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) says it is introducing variety of tree crops and new farming techniques to diversify Ghana’s agricultural systems to stimulate economic growth.
The diversification drive, backed by substantial investment, aims to explore the untapped economic potential of the country, provide opportunities for higher exports and boost sustainable agricultural practices by leveraging new technologies to improve food security.
These were announced fifth Scientific Conference and the Research Staff Association (RSA) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) general meeting in Kade in the Kwaebibrem District of the Eastern Region.
It was on the theme: “Diversification of Agricultural Systems: The Role of Tree Crops in Harnessing Ghana’s Economic Potential.”
During the forum, experts emphasised the need for Ghana to diversify its agriculture away from traditional commodities such as cocoa and maize towards the production of high-value crops like cashew nuts, shea butter, and palm oil.
Mr. William Agyapong Quaittoo, Chief Executive Officer of the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), who was the guest of honour for the occasion, commended CSIR-RSA members for their role and support in research.
He said the tree crop development authority was well positioned to improve the alignment of the CSIR research agenda with market demands through mediating between research institutions, investors, and producer constituencies to ensure that output, products, and technologies were relevant to market needs.
In line with this, he said the central focus of their activities was to enhance the availability of high-quality planting materials for selected high-potential varieties and corollary services that meet the needs of farmers, investors, and markets.
This entailed fostering supply chains for these materials, especially orchestrating the generation and dissemination of an enhanced supply of seedlings to private nursery operators and the downstream supply of seedlings to producers in concert with corollary services such as grafting and inputs.
Ghana government had secured $100 million in funding to finance these interventions in the tree crop sector, Mr. Quaittoo added, through the “Ghana Tree Crops Diversification Project.”
He said the interventions focused on strengthening institutions and governance within value chains, enhancing productivity and climate resilience, and providing support for post-harvest management, value addition, and market access.
He further explained that TCDA allocated $11 million to research activities, involving coconut, rubber, and cashew.
The funds will be shared among various research institutes, including CSIR-Oil Palm Research Institute, CSIR-Crops Research Institute/ College of Agriculture and Renewable Natural Resources of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, among others, to support market-driven research proposals.
Again, a significant amount of the fund, totalling over $30 million, has been designated for developing high-quality planting material supply chains.
The project is set to commence in November of this year, according to Mr. Quaittoo, and requires thorough market-driven research for successful execution.
Professor Paul P. Bosu, Director-General of CSIR, said there had been a noticeable rise in research projects, with the total increasing from 298 in 2022 to 311 by the end of September 2023.
He said the management, through the Council’s research and development committee, had developed the research and development policy document to help streamline research activities in the long term.
Ghana’s CSIR is the country’s leading national science and technology institution, conducting scientific and technological research.
Dr. Kofi Ampomah-Benefo, the National President of the RSA, provided an overview of the association’s membership, which consists of the Research and Principal Technologist Grade Staff of CSIR.
He said it was created to be the leading source of information for science, technology, and innovation to support national development.
The RSA hosted the 2023 Annual General Meeting and 5th Scientific Conference, bringing together researchers, development partners, and graduate students from various disciplines to engage in discussions about the diversification of Ghana’s agricultural systems to unlock its economic potential.
Tree crops play a crucial role in diversifying agricultural systems and unlocking Ghana’s economic potential.
With its rich biodiversity and favourable climate, Ghana has the ideal conditions for cultivating a wide variety of tree crops, such as cocoa, shea, and oil palm.
These tree crops not only provide valuable sources of income for farmers but also contribute to the country’s export earnings and overall economic growth.