21.06.2004 Regional News

Make information accessible to farmers - Agriculture Minister

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Accra, June 21, GNA - Major Courage Quashiga, Minister of Food and Agriculture on Monday called on information handlers and specialists to go beyond the storage of their findings and to look for effective ways of dealing with the huge mass of information that already existed for development.

Major Quashiga, whose speech was read for him by Mr Adomako Osei-Frimpong, Director Agricultural Extension Services, at the opening of a five-day workshop on: "The Promotion of the Methodology for the Determination of Priority Information Themes," said information was a costly input to research.

There was no need to learn new ways of generating agricultural information but the priority should be how to manage the existing ones to promote increases in yield, he said.

Major Quashiga said there already existed a huge mass of information, both scientific and technical, sitting in various offices, libraries and archives but what was needed was how such information could be used in the nation's developmental agenda.

"The cost of poor decision-making resulting from lack of knowledge was high and we all need to guide against such wastage," he said. The Ministry, he said, had established some Agricultural Information Centres on pilot bases in some major district marketing centres, to boast agricultural production.

Mr Clement Ntsuah -Mensah, Director of the Institute for Scientific and Technological Information (INSTI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said the changing nature of the agricultural enterprise made it necessary for stakeholders to change their perception about information flow.

He said if information from research findings were allowed to flow freely through the various channels down to farmers, agricultural productivity would be increased.

"The lack of information was a constraint to agricultural development in our country," he said, adding that information flow and management could contribute to narrowing the gap between what was possible and what could be achieved.

Mr Ntsuah-Mensah said information gaps hindered efficacy and efficiency of production and marketing activities.

He said the agricultural systems generated a lot of information: "But making appropriate choices and adopting them to meet the needs of the major stakeholders have been very difficult since information needs are not only diverse, but also dynamic and continue to change." The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA), based in the Netherlands is sponsoring the workshop, which is being attended by 25 participants drawn from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Universities, CSIR and Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen. 21 June 04

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