Establish Ghana Agriculture Service to transform sector – Prof. Kanton

A research scientist formerly with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Professor Roger Kanton, has ad­vocated the establishment of what he termed “Ghana Agriculture Service” to spearhead the transfor­mation of agricultural governance and productivity in the country.

Prof. Kanton explained that the proposed service, similar to the Ghana Education Service and Ghana Health Service, would bring more technical expertise, stake­holder involvement, and better working conditions to advance the sector.

Additionally, the professor, who worked at the CSIR’s Savannah Agricultural Research Institute, proposed the founding of a “Na­tional Farmers Union” to serve as the collective voice for farmers across the country to enable them to push for better policies and support systems.

He made the two proposals on Saturday in an interview with the Ghanaian Times on reforms that were critical to the improvement of the agriculture sector, which contributes more than 20 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a mainstay of the economy.

He said currently the Ministry of Food and Agriculture was dom­inated by politicians who often interfered in technical matters and implemented “top-down policies” without adequate consultation with farmers and other stakeholders along the agricultural value chain.

A dedicated agriculture service, Prof. Kanton said, should be staffed by technical experts and professionals from relevant fields such as agriculture, veterinary sci­ences, plant pathology who would insulate the service from political interference and ensure policies and programmes are driven by evi­dence and expert knowledge rather than political rhetoric.

Moreover, the professor said the service would facilitate a bottom-up approach by actively involving farmers, processors, transporters, exporters and other key players in decision-making.

He cited the failure of initiatives like “Planting for Food and Jobs” and the Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) controversy as examples of policies that faced backlash due to lack of proper consultation with stakeholders.

Additionally, he said staff under an agriculture service would have better career prospects, training opportunities and benefits com­pared to the current setup under decentralised departments.

He criticised the decentralisation of agriculture that has placed some agricultural departments under the Local Government Ministry, depriving them of funds and logis­tics, and called for their return to the mother ministry.

“Look at the mess they always have there. When common funds trickle in, they have already got debts. They have to go and pay. Nothing works there (Agriculture departments under Local Govern­ment Ministry),” he said.

Touching on the proposed “National Farmers Union”, Prof. Kanton said it would serve as the collective voice for farmers across Ghana, akin to unions for other professions like teachers and doctors, to influence agricultural policies and better conditions.

“When you are speaking with one voice, government will listen, policymakers will listen,” he said, and stressed the need for farmers to stop working in silos and rally themselves to champion their in­terests across the value chain.

With a national union, he said, farmers would be able to direct­ly state their position on issues like pricing, subsidies and market access, rather than having them im­posed on them by the government.


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