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 government pays emoluments as well as the purchase of some goods and service for the CSIR, it recognises there isaneed for improvement in the area of direct funding for scientific research.
He added that it is for this reason that government committed one percent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) toward research and development, and that his ministry will work to ensure the CSIR get its allocation.
Dr. Afriyie said this at a staff durbar at the Food Research Institute of CSIR in Accra, adding that more support for the CSIR will be acquired through bilateral and multilateral partnership.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures being employed by countries to combat it have brought to bear the need for Ghana to be self-sufficient in terms of its basic needs, such as food, clothing and medicine.
In addition, despite the contribution made by farmers toward food self-sufficiency, it is a fact that most farmers face production challenges such as low yields – usually due to diseases, pest and poor quality of planting materials and limited irrigation.
“If the country is to make any meaningful progress in attaining food and nutritional security, the onus for addressing most of these challenges rests on the research and development institutions like the FRI and the Crop Science Institute (CSI) of CSIR,” he added.
According to him, CSIIR and its institutes have contributed to the development of agriculture in the country; and this is evident by the several varieties of improved crops it has developed which were not only high-yielding but also disease- and drought-resistant as well as early maturing.
For instance, he said about 90 percent of the varieties of maize being planted on commercial bases in Ghana come from the laboratories and endeavours of CSRI and its institutes, particularly the FRI, and that similar successes have been realised in the production of rice, sorghum and soya-bean.
He said the FRI has also contributed significantly to improvement in household, traditional 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.
He added 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 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank and European Union (EU).
He hinted that the full potential of CSIR’s institutes, including the FRI, has not been realised because communication between its scientists and extension officers of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as well as farmers is not the best.
“There should be a direct route between scientific findings and their application in the field, and the institutional arrangement should not be an impediment to this,” he said.
He therefore added that his ministry will work with other state agencies involved to ensure this bottleneck in communication is resolved so that food production will be maximised.