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28.09.2003 General News

Ghana must accelerate agricultural development

By GNA
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Accra, Sept. 28, GNA - Ghana will need to accelerate agricultural development beyond the current pace if she is to attain a middle level income status by the year 2020.

Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, who made the observation, said at its current operational level of about 20 per cent, much more effort was required in the agricultural sector to stimulate self-reliance and uplift majority of Ghanaians from poverty. He said this in an address read for him by Mrs Rebecaa Aboagye, Director of Human Resource at the Ministry at the graduation of 12 Ghanaian Agricultural Science Teachers.

The teachers had completed sandwich-training programme in agricultural engineering at the Larenstein University of Professional Education of the Netherlands.

The programme, which is a collaborative effort between the Ghana Education Service and the Dutch Government, is to make the teaching of agriculture science at the pre-tertiary level more practical. The beneficiaries are required to impart the knowledge to their counterparts in the field.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said any increase in agricultural production required modernisation of traditional practices and a radical change in the thinking of Ghanaians, who believed that agriculture was the preserve of the illiterate, rural and the ageing population.

Mr Baah-Wiredu stressed the need for a well-trained and informed work force to reverse the trend and prepare the minds of the people by equipping them with relevant skills to ensure sustainable agricultural development.

It is in this direction that the educational reform emphasised a sound foundation in agriculture for national development by inculcating into students at the pre-tertiary level practical knowledge of the subject, he said.

However, Mr Baah-Wiredu said, practical agriculture was becoming absent because of some lapses in the system and cited the lack of school farms and gardens in most schools as a demonstration of failure to impart practical knowledge.

The Minister pledged technical and financial support form the Ministry to the trainees to enable them to impart the knowledge acquired to their colleagues to give meaning to the Netherlands fellowship programme.

The Reverend Ama Afo-Blay, Director General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), expressed the hope that the skills acquired by the trainees would enable them to establish small-scale agricultural enterprises in their communities and schools.

She said they would be contributing to meeting the goals of the educational reforms by equipping the youth with employable skills. Ms Comfort Acheampong, the Co-ordinator of the programme, asked the GES to formulate a policy for agricultural education under which graduates of such training programmes could be effectively used to enhance capacity of other agriculture science teachers in the field.

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