The Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Kwaku Afriyie has said government, in line with its policy of championing development through science and technology, is taking steps to improve funding to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
He said, despite the fact the government pays the emoluments as well as the purchase of some goods and service for the CSIR, there was the need for improvement in the area of direct funding for scientific research.
The minister further added that it was for this reason that the government committed 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards research and development, and that, his ministry would work to ensure that the CSIR gets its allocation.
Dr. Afriyie, who said this at a staff durbar at the Food Research Institute of CSIR in Accra, added that more support for the CSIR would be acquired through bilateral and multilateral partnership.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures being employed by countries to combat it has brought to bear the need for Ghana to be self-sufficient in terms of its basic needs such as food, clothing and medicine.
The minister further emphasised the role CSIR plays in ensuring food security in the country.
“If the country is to make any meaningful progress in attaining food and nutritional security the onus in addressing most of these challenges rest on the research and development institutions like the FRI and the Crop Science Institute (CSI) of CSIR,” he added.
According to him, CSIR and its institutes have contributed to the development of agriculture in the country and this was evident by the several varieties of improved crops it had developed which, were not only high yielding, but also disease and drought resistant and early maturing.
For instance, he said, about 90 percent of the varieties of maize planted on commercial bases in Ghana comes from the laboratories and endeavours of CSIR and its institutes, particularly, the FRI, and that similar successes had been realised in the production of rice, sorghum, and soyabean.
He said the FRI has also contributed significantly to improvement in household, tradition and commercial food processing with innovations such as Banky Mix Powder, Cocoyam Fufu Flour, Fermented Maize Meal, Gari Mix, Mushroom Oyster Spawns, Rice Cereal Mix and Plantain Fufu Flour.
Again, he mentioned that the FRI has also been responsible for initiating and leading the implementation of several international projects on food innovations funded by agencies such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, and the European Union (EU).
Dr. Afriyie also stated that the full potential of institutes of CSIR including the FRI had not been realised because communication between its scientist and extension officers of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as well as farmers was not the best.
“There should be a direct route between scientific findings and its application in the field and the institution’s arrangement should not be an impediment to this,” he said.
He, therefore, assured his ministry would work with other state agencies involved to ensure that this bottleneck in communication is resolve so that food production would be maximised.