The University of Ghana is to name its Enterprise Hub for Agricultural Innovation after the late Mr Kofi Annan, a former United Nations Secretary-General.
This was in recognition of Mr Annan’s contributions to ensuring world peace and food security.
Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, the Founding Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana, announced this at the opening of a day’s workshop on Cowpea Value Chain in Accra.
“Associated to WACCI’s efforts at strengthening the commodity value chains of the important food security crops is our Enterprise Hub for Agricultural Innovation that we are establishing in August 2019,” Prof. Danquah stated.
“Plans are far advanced for approval to name our Enterprise Hub, after Mr Annan of blessed memory.”
He said the relationship between WACCI and the late Mr Annan go as far back as July 30, 2008, when he paid a three-hour historic visit to WACCI ahead of his becoming Chancellor of the University of Ghana and encouraged them to make agriculture attractive for the youth.
Prof. Danquah said the Enterprise Hub was going to be a game changing platform which would equip the youth with the knowledge and skills to birth ideas and grow their ideas into start-ups in partnership with the private sector.
He acknowledged the generous contribution from the Australian High Commission for the infrastructure, which would serve as the first stop base for training the incubates.
He said this project would address the youth bulge in the country which if not properly managed could become a human time bomb.
The one-day workshop, which was attended by participants from the West Africa sub-region, was on the theme: “Sustainable Intensification of Cowpea Production and Value Chain Development”.
Prof. Danquah reaffirmed the centre’s commitment to define and strengthen the Cowpea Value Chain for investments.
“Our seeds are our green gold and cowpea provides an opportunity for important start-ups,” he said.
Prof. Danquah said: “We are number one in Africa in plant breeding education at the post graduate level and we shall become notable globally for agriculture innovations and entrepreneurship in the decade ahead”.
He said the centre fully supports the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme as well as the Ghana Beyond Aid vision.
“But we must caution that if our development efforts are not informed by evidenced-based decisions underpinned by good science and technology all that we doing today will end up to naught,” he said.
He said the only hope was that the government would launch a major Competitive Grand Challenges Fund; so that scientists would be able to access local funding to work on the challenges which if addressed would lift millions out of hunger and poverty so we meet the Sustainable Development Goal Two (SDG 2) in the set time.
Mr Seth Paul Havor, Member of National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG), said poor quality of foundation seeds leads to a lot of admixtures that require a lot of ‘rouging’ thus reducing their final yields.
He said however, referring to the SDG 2 that seeks to address food security and nutrition puts cowpea in a crucial position in addressing that goal.
Mr Havor said, among other opportunities was that inclusion of cowpea in government’s flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs offers a lot opportunity for large scale production.
Dr Francis Kusi, Senior Research Scientist at Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)- Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), encouraged marketers to patronised local varieties.
Mr Kusi told the Ghana News Agency that most of the marketers complained about the taste of varieties in Ghana and for that matter they went in for crops from neighbouring countries.
He said, for instance, there were different types of cowpeas and what each of them was suitable for, as such, it was inappropriate to do an assessment based on only taste.