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05.07.2004 General News

Govt urged to involve academia in policy formulation

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Accra, July 5, GNA - A Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Legon, on Monday expressed regret that Government at times failed to consult researchers and the academia in policy formulation, particularly on agriculture.

Dr Thomas Aquinas Adjadeh of the Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture, said good policies often fail because they were designed for political considerations instead of solving pressing socio-economic problems of the citizenry.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, he noted that policy implementers often ignored factors of production such as labour; land, entrepreneur, and even weather and soil patterns before allocating huge funds for agriculture and other economically viable projects. "Agriculture starts from the soil, even before the acquisition of capital and farming inputs. If you take the knowledge about soil for granted, you would pay dearly for it".

Dr Adjadeh urged farmers and policy makers to consult soil scientists and researchers for advice on land acquisition and management practices to ensure maximum agriculture production.

He expressed regret that farmers and policy makers approached a Soil Researcher only after they had failed in implementing unilateral and wrong decisions.

Dr Adjadeh said sound policies in themselves do not improve the economy and called on policy implementers to effectively play their roles to ensure the success of such programmes.

He suggested the need for the universities and agriculture institutions to be furnished with documents on policies to enable them produce the manpower requirements of the agriculture sector.

Dr Adjadeh said although the process of agriculture production was incomplete until the produce got to the market, most often access roads to food producing areas are in bad shape, and cited the Western Region, a major cocoa producing area as an example.

He appealed to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to expedite action on plans to rehabilitate old silos and build new ones to check post-harvest losses.

Dr Adjadeh commended the Government for implementing pragmatic policies to revamp the agriculture sector and mentioned the cocoa spraying exercise, which he said, had resulted in increased production of the crop and a general transformation of the cocoa industry.

Dr Adjadeh said the importation of a number of tractors for distribution to farmers at subsidised prices showed Government's commitment to providing the required leadership for revitalising the agriculture sector.

He said, notwithstanding these achievements, Government would have to collaborate with farmers and other stakeholders to ensure the over all improvement of the sector.

Dr Adjadeh said farmers must be assisted with inputs such as fertilizers, cutlasses and pesticides at subsidised prices instead of providing them with loans, which were at times misapplied.

He said farmers must be encouraged to go into the production of non-traditional crops such as fruits and spices to diversify agriculture.

Dr Adjadeh observed that although tropical soils are considered fertile they are relatively poor in comparison to temperate soils due to differences in temperature and soil composition.

He explained that although a soil could be fertile, it would not be necessarily productive.

Dr Adjadeh said studies by the Department indicated that the Accra Plains alone had 68 soil series, which required different management. He said the Kpong black soil, called the Akuse Series or Vertisols were rich in minerals but the physical property made its management difficult and water logged in the rainy season and crack with clods during the dry season.

Dr Adjadeh said the tropical soils in the rain forest areas of Axim for instance are leached and acidic with low 'ph' because of heavy rainfall and high temperature which accelerates the wreathing of rocks and minerals and decomposition of organic matter. He said though plants/crops require combination of chemicals for proper growth, there was a difference between fertile soil and productive soils.

Dr Adjadeh appealed to the media to assist in educating the public on the role of soil science in agriculture development. He also requested officials of MOFA, especially the Extension officers who deal directly with farmers to liaise with soil research institutions to upgrade their skills to facilitate their work.

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