Mr Ernest Akubuor Debrah, Minister for Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has expressed concern about the inability of Ghanaian agricultural engineers to manufacture and come out with simple and appropriate agricultural technologies to help accelerate agricultural modernisation in the country.
He said even though the nation could boast of highly skilled and experienced agricultural engineers, Government continued to import simple farm implements at great cost to the nation. "I therefore, charge Ghanaian agricultural engineers to re-examine themselves and identify the challenges that militate against their efforts, to enable Government find solutions to them."
Mr Debrah was addressing the opening session of the Third National Conference on Agricultural Engineering in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region yesterday. The four-day conference, under the theme, "Engineering Ghana's Agriculture and Health for Economic Progress", is being organised by the Ghana Society of Agricultural Engineering (GSAE).
Mr Debrah noted that it was taking Ghana too long to modernise its agriculture to achieve food security and compete favourably in agricultural exports on the world market.
He said food security and enhanced agricultural foreign exchange earnings could be achieved only through the adoption of appropriate agricultural engineering practices that could promote efficiency among farmers.
This, the Minister said could be achieved when engineers were able to manufacture and develop simple, appropriate and suitable equipment and tools that would reduce drudgery, increase food production, add value to farm produce and store them for future use.
Mr Debrah said Government had demonstrated its commitment to modernise agriculture by importing about 1,200 tractors and 500 pieces of power tillers into the country.
The government had also acquired and distributed 21 billion cedis worth of agro processing equipment and storage facilities under the HIPC funding, while negotiations had also been completed with the Japanese government for the importation of about four million dollars worth of agricultural machinery, including tractors, power tillers, rice mills and water pumps into the country annually.
The Minister said MOFA had also started a process to procure three drilling rigs for the development and promotion of ground water for agricultural purposes while nine dams were being rehabilitated for irrigation.
Professor Kwesi Andam, Vice Chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), said there was the need for thorough analysis of appropriate agricultural technologies through research and development for the country rather than the use of general philosophy and assumptions.
He charged agricultural engineers to set out new directions of research and extension for agricultural engineering development in Ghana.
Mr D.L Lamptey, President of GSAE, said no nation could afford to develop without relying on engineering technology. He therefore, charged agricultural engineers to develop and bring to the doorsteps of farmers appropriate farming technologies to increase and sustain their productivity.