29.07.2004 General News

Quashigah bemoans loss of revenue in agric sector

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Cape Coast, July 29, GNA - The Minister of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Major Courage Quashigah (rtd) on Thursday, expressed concern about the inadequate knowledge on post-production technology in the agricultural sector resulting in the loss of huge amount of revenue to the country.

He said for instance, between 2000 and 2002, the value of "agricultural waste", amounted to 1.6 billion dollars and pointed out that 90 per cent of such loses, could have been prevented, through professional post-production activities.

The Minister was opening a workshop to review a draft of a new curricula being developed for the five agricultural training colleges and three farm institutes in the country, at the Sasakawa Centre of the University of Cape Coast (UCC).

About 120 participants, including the deans of the agricultural faculties of the universities, regional directors of agriculture and other trainers in the sector attended.

The minister observed that, whereas there was adequate human resource capacity, such as research scientists, agriculturalists and extension officers in the pre-production area, the production and post-production areas, such as water management in farming, processing, haulage, storage, packaging marketing and distribution lacked the requisite expertise.

According to him, "those doing agriculture are not those who have learnt it", and said agriculture production had been left to illiterates, adding that, there was the need to ensure that those trained in agricultural production, "did practical work and not just sit in their offices".

Major Quashigah, reiterated the nation's bid to become an agro-industrialised nation and to attain a middle-income status by 2015, and called on experts and stakeholders in the sector, to develop a new curricula, that would ensure agricultural institutions provided specialisation in all areas of agricultural production.

Major Quashigah observed that, things were being done haphazardly in the area of post-production, particularly with regard to improper packaging technology, and said there was also no proper distribution system for the marketing and distribution of agricultural products, stating that, "people are doing things out of intuition".

The minister also touched on the need to make those involved in the sector conversant with existing laws as well as international policies. He expressed the hope that the participants, would help in developing a curricula that would go a long way to change the current approach to agriculture, to help create wealth and eradicate poverty.

Central Regional Minister, Mr Isaac Edumadze, described the bid to review the curricula for agricultural institutions as laudable and said the review of the educational system was in consonance with the broad objectives of government to make education relevant, accessible and affordable.

Professor Victor Gadzekpo, Dean of the Science Faculty of UCC, who presided, stressed the need for the participants to help in the development of aquaculture since tilapia, which could be farmed on a large scale in the country, was being imported from Thailand.

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