Former Senior Researcher, Crop Research Institute (CRI), Dr. Kwesi Offei Bonsu, has stated that the agriculture sector is struggling and under growing because there is no connection between what they do and research materials that guide operations to deliver maximum yields.
According to him, there are so much research materials sitting on shelves in laboratories of research institutions such as the Crop Research Institute, Animal Research Institute, Soil Research Institute, Crop Breeding Institute among others, but because of the disconnect, industry is not getting access to them.
Dr. Bonsu, who is currently Head of Research Department at Casa de Ropa, emphasized that instead of importing seed varieties, chemicals and other inputs from elsewhere for production, attention should be given to locally developed ones by research institutions as it is adjusted to best fit the climate and environmental conditions.
“As a country we have all the potential to do what we want to do if only we will focus and invest in what is done locally. Agribusinesses are getting it wrong because they do not get to the research institutions to get a tailor-made solution and acquire knowledge on best practice.
The biggest problem I have seen in this country is that the entrepreneurs are on one part and the researchers are on one part, there should be a link where research and industry meet to exchange ideas, inventions/innovations and information,” he said.
He further proposed an annual research fair or roundtable forum between the two factions, a platform that would be championed by government so that the best works are adopted nationally and disseminated across the region even to the subsistent farmers.
To buttress his point, Dr. Bonsu shared his experience in India where there is a national agriculture research laboratory whereby young entrepreneurs with ideas are given desk to sit and design their ideas with research experts and the outcome is shared with the government getting a percentage of the advancement benefits.
“There are lot of findings hiding in laboratories that people do not know about, scientist would produce but someone has to pick it up and use it for it to become meaningful. In India they have a government agency called National Research and Development Council (NRDC) that goes through all the research institutions in the country and sample all the top research works that have great potential, repackage it and begin to sell to entrepreneurs with a share to the laboratories and government. And that is what has brought about all the top inventions we see from that side,” he stressed.
On the topic of investment and funding for research, and its impact on the level of research work produced by related institutions in the country he bemoaned the winner takes all type of politics practice in Ghana that has always shifted the attention of the ruling political party to tangible asset investments like infrastructure among others against investing in research which is intangible.
“We need a national policy that dedicates an amount to research that irrespective of who is in power, fund is always available to research and to ensure that research outcomes or inventions are recognized by government and promoted,” he said.
Dr. Bonsu, called for creation of deliberate model farms like what Casa de Ropa is doing to recruit national service personnel from agriculture institutions to get hands on experience that can help them start their own agribusinesses.