The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that over two-thirds of all women in Africa are employed in the agricultural sector, producing nearly 90 per cent of the food on the continent. In addition, research by African Women in Agriculture Research and Development (AWARD) on women in agriculture in 125 African agricultural institutions found that although women produce, process and market most of Africa’s food crops, only one in four agricultural researchers is female.
In The News
The Director of the Crop Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Hans Adu-Dapaah, has said the Plant Breeders Bill has nothing to do with genetic modification and urged the House to pass the bill.
He said the bill currently before Parliament was a positive development which sought to address the interests of plant breeders, as well as promote agricultural productivity.
Dr Adu-Dapaah was speaking at a workshop for former Members of Parliament (MPs) on the benefits of the bill in Accra yesterday.
The Offinso Municipal Cocoa Chief Farmer, Nana Kwaku Duah Agyeman, has advised members of the Offinso branch of the Ghana Cocoa, Coffee and Shea Nut Farmers Association and cocoa farmers in general to patronise the government-approved spray to improve yield.
The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has commended the Speaker of Parliament for suspending discussions on the Plant Breeders' Bill (PBB).
He has also been lauded for directing the Select Committee on Constitutional, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs to engage in public consultation on the bill.
However, the PFAG has registered its displeasure with some emerging developments regarding the bill and the introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Ghana.
Ghana’s Ambassador to the State of Israel, Mr Ernest Lomotey, has stated that improved agricultural technology is one of its focuses for further strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.
He said such aspects of bilateral relations would help Ghana produce all year round and the mission was working towards establishing a convergence between Israel’s accomplishments in agriculture and Ghana’s desire to expand productivity in this sector.
President John Dramani Mahama has taken a strong position against agricultural programmes that are packaged to benefit technocrats, at the expense of farmers.
"The direct benefits should go to farmers," he said, insisting that his government would not hesitate to reject any agricultural programme that took away the direct benefits from farmers and gave them to technocrats.
"Technocrats in developing countries and mission support staff are happy to package programmes like these because of who the benefits go to," he said.
Another genuine concern is high pesticide and herbicide residues in GM foods. This is due to the fact that some GM foods are designed to take on more pesticides and herbicides than usual (known as “roundup ready” crops) so that the farmers can kill off weeds and pests without harming their plants.
Due to this resistance, these crops end up getting higher doses of these chemicals than their conventionally bred counterparts get.
One of the compelling forces necessitating the call for the introduction of the genetically modified organism (GMOs) and the passage of the Plant Breeders’ Bill (PBB) in the country is improvements in yields of crops on the farm and food security.
So while the controversy rages on, various options are being looked at, as alternatives for the production of sufficient food to feed the nation and even export beyond its borders.
The Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Victor Agyeman, has spoken against the notion that many of the country’s research findings are gathering dust on shelves.
While it is the generally held belief that development efforts are being held back by the lack of appreciation for the work done by the country’s research institutions, Dr Agyeman said the lack of connection between research and development was due to the weaknesses of the private sector.
He said since 1996, the CSIR had had an Act which indicated that it had to work with the private sector and commercialise.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has rolled out a project to support the inclusion of cassava flour in bread and other confectioneries towards improving food security and the livelihoods of farmers.
The project is to be executed through two IFAD grants; “Enhancing the Competitiveness of the High Quality Cassava Flour Value Chain (HQCF) in West and Central Africa” and “Improving Quality, Nutrition and Health Impacts of Inclusion of Cassava Flour in Bread Formulation in West Africa (Ghana and Nigeria)”.
Agricultural scientists from Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria have met to develop high-yielding yam seeds that are disease-resistant. The effort is targeted at enhancing yam production for both the local and international markets.
The project, which is on a pilot basis, will take 36 months to complete and will cost about $4 million. It will involve improving the quality and productivity of about 3,000 smallholder farmers in eight growing communities, particularly in Ghana and Nigeria.
The project is on the theme: “Community action in improving farmer-saved seed yam,” and is being co-ordinated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
A former United Nations Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, and his wife, Nane, are collaborating with the International Potato Centre (CIP) to intensify a campaign on the consumption of sweet potatoes to improve the health of women and children less than five years.
The campaign, which is also intended to create wealth, is targeted at reaching at least 500,000 households in Ghana with resilient nutritious sweet potato by 2020.
The Embassy of Israel will on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, hold a breakfast meeting for government officials, agricultural companies, big farmers, agro-processors, financial and investment institutions.
It will focus on agriculture and major private and public sector players in the field of agro-business and the media to serve as a briefing session on the prospects and projections of participation in Agricultural Technology (AGRITECH) 2015 in Israel.
A scientist at the Yam and Cotton Breeding Programme of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), Dr Emmanuel Chamba, has confirmed that Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton trials in the three northern regions of the country have yielded positive results.
“What we did was that we had a quarter hectare Bt cotton and a quarter hectare non-Bt cottonlying side by side. We did that in six locations in the three northern regions,” he said.
WORKERS of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Friday hit the streets of Amasaman in the Greater Accra Region to protest what they described as “an attempt by the Ga West Municipal Assembly to give the institute’s land to the displaced residents of Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Numbering about 500, the workers, wearing red armbands and holding placards, marched through the principal streets of Amasaman and converged on the 19 acres where the displaced residents of Sodom and Gomorrah would settle.
The Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has appealed to the government to lift the embargo on employment to enable the institute to replace its ageing workers.
Within four years, the institute has lost 100 workers, mostly experienced scientists, some of whom have resigned, while others have gone on retirement. The situation is likely to be aggravated by the fact that many more scientists are about to go on retirement.Currently, the institute has a workforce of 700.
The Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) has secured a $1 million World Bank grant to enhance local rice cultivation in the northern ecological zones of the country.
Dubbed the “System of Rice Intensification (SRI),” the three-year project seeks to train rice farmers on the correct rice farming practices to ensure higher yields. It is being implemented by SARI in collaboration with the West African Agricultural Productivity.
Farmers are to benefit from a GH¢90 million subsidy on fertiliser and seeds this year, the Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr Fifi Kwetey, has said.
At the 2015 Fertiliser and Seed Subsidy Programme in Accra last Monday, Mr Kwetey said the subsidy would target smallholder farmers cultivating maize, rice, sorghum and millet, emphasising that food crop farmers would be given the priority.
Currently, the government is subsidising fertiliser at about 21 per cent.
Yam farmers in parts of Ghana have been exposed to smart technologies required to build a resilient cropping system in order to increase yields to at least 30 per cent.
Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) has been a public health concern in developing countries including Ghana. Strategies to control VAD include dietary diversification, biofortification and vitamin A supplementation.
Dietary diversification which involves utilization of beta-carotene-rich crops such as orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP), yellow cassava and yellow maize has been the cheapest means of alleviating VAD.
A 3-day training workshop was organized at CSIR-Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI) on soft skills for facilitators of Innovation Platforms (IPs) in 1
5 districts of Ghana from 12th to 14th January, 2016. The objectives were to improve the knowledge base of facilitators and functionality of the IPs for effective technology dissemination and adoption and also to improve learning skills, conflict resolution, and multi-stakeholder process among others. Twenty four (24) extension facilitators from 14 districts were brought together for this training.
Plans are underway to overhaul agriculture through the application of digital technology, President John Dramani Mahama has said.
With over 31 million mobile line subscribers in Ghana, he said the government was poised to apply mobile phone technology to reach out to farmers with new ideas, to improve production and their incomes.
Contributing to discussions at the 2015 Forbes Africa Forum in Brazzaville, Congo last
Tuesday, the President said digitised agriculture had the power to alleviate poverty and create wealth for the people.