African governments have been urged to put in a Presidential Initiative on Grand Challenges for the transformation of the continent’s agriculture.
Professor Eric Danquah, Founding Director, West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana said African governments need to re-energise political will for the transformation of agriculture.
He underscored the need for African governments to allocate at least one per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to Science, Technology and innovation.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency during a workshop on Cowpea Value Chain Development in Ghana, Prof. Danquah said “If African nations do not invest at least one per cent of GDP in science, technology and innovation, it will face the threat of hunger by 2030.”
The four-day workshop, organised by WACCI under its one million dollar African Union- European Union project, is on the theme: “Shaping the Future of Cowpea Value Chain Development in Ghana.”
The four-day workshop seeks to create a platform for stakeholders to make firm discussions on a policy brief, establish a consortium, plan the next decade for the development of the Cowpea Value Chain by proposing key activities for the consortium and its partners to address critical issues of processing, value addition and financing of cowpea value chain.
It will be recalled that WACCI on March 4, this year, organised a stakeholder engagement workshop dubbed “Sustainable Intensification of Cowpea Production and Value Chain Development in Ghana”.
Prof. Danquah said in Ghana, the National Research Fund was on the drawing board for over a decade; adding that it had come in various forms and names under previous governments.
“Just a decision to put a minimum one per cent into scientific research has to be on hold for 11 years; this is troubling and I wish that there would be the political will to do this. I wish that this fund could be embraced as a presidential initiative for grand challenges and passed in Parliament as a matter of urgency”.
The founding director said cowpea was an important crop and needed prioritisation for investments in the development of the value chain. “We are calling for investments in the Cowpea Value Chains, and also putting together a consortium to develop a 10-year strategic plan for the cowpea value chain”, he said.
This would ensure that by 2030, cowpea will be one of the most productive crops free of biological and physical stresses and other challenges that limit the utilisation of the crop.
Prof. Danquah told GNA that WACCI’s workshop would develop a policy brief that would be placed before the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, development partners and other stakeholders.