This year’s African Scientific Renaissance Day was on Friday marked in Accra with a call on African scientists to pool resources to help address the continent’s agriculture challenges.
Professor Kwabena Frempong-Boateng, Minister of Environmental, Science, Technology and Innovation, who made the call said the continent could feed itself if the scientists took decisive decisions to adopt science and technology in agriculture application as done in other parts of the world.
“The sad truth is that most African countries are not doing well in agriculture, and this sad state of affairs has everything to do with the deficits that Africa exhibits in engineering, technology and innovation, that is why they the scientists must come together and propose individual country needs to produce enough food to feed their people with the most precious arable land at its disposal”.
June 30 has been set aside by the African Union as the African Scientific Renaissance Day for the continent to reflect on the contribution of the continent’s scientists to the development of modern science and technology.
The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) organised the event on the theme: “Transforming agriculture towards the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda: The role of science, technology and innovation.”
Topics discussed included Planting for Food and Jobs: The role of nuclear technologies, and local science and technology solutions for value additions to Ghana’s agro products.
The minister who lamented the slow pace of the continent’s agriculture revolution said it was only in Africa that the “Green Revolution has not taken place”.
“All human activities are driven by technology because it has the enviable track record of providing solutions to humanity’s challenges, whether on transportation, health, sanitation, water resources, security, defence, energy and any area of socio-economic activity,” he added.
Professor Frempong-Boateng noted that the application of Science and Technology and Innovation (STI) in agriculture was critical in an era where arable land is under assault from climate change, forest degradation and population growth.
He stated that man had survived hunger in the face of rapid population growth as a result of advancement in STI and its adoption would produce enough food to feed the increasing population.
It was to address these challenges, he explained, that the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda was underpinned by the desire and commitment to manage the country’s natural resources in a manner that allowed financing of the development agenda without recourse to external assistance.
“The time has come for all African scientists to support the continent’s vision to reduce food imports, create job for all the people especially the youth, expand and improve upon current resources through the deployment of science and technology to provide the needs of their people,” he said.
The Director General of GAEC, Prof Benjamin J.B. Nyarko, said the day which formed part of the African Regional Corporative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology, (AFRA) would help African countries to use modern technology to transform the agriculture sector, since the livelihood of many African countries depended on increased food production.
The Director General said the issues of the entire value chain in the agriculture sector needed to be effectively managed towards adopting modern techniques in the sector.
Prof. Nyarko said GAEC had developed new species of crops, tissue culture, and shelf life extension using ‘Gamma Irradiation Facility,’ the control of pests and diseases, as well as fruit flies using cutting edge research solutions.
He commended the government for adopting the Planting for Food and Jobs programme which he said would create job opportunities for the youth.
BY LAWRENCE VOMAFA-AKPALU