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22.10.2004 General News

Use Internet for information on new farming methods - Quarshigah

By GNA

Accra, Oct. 22, GNA - Major Courage Quarshigah (rtd), Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Friday urged the youth who are into agriculture to visit the Internet for information on new and appropriate farming methods.

He said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) site accessed through fao.org/WAICENT was an excellent source of information.

Major Quarshigah said the ministry had set up pilot centres in six districts, which would soon pick the information from the website or receive SMS text messages on mobile phones for dissemination to farmers and traders in Non-Traditional Export commodities.

World commodity prices, input prices, plant protection practices, soil management were all available at the site, he said in a speech read for him at the opening of a two-day African Youth Seminar on the Use of ICT on Agriculture Education in Accra.

It is organised by African Youth Foundation, a Non-governmental organisation. About 60 participants from Ghana, the Netherlands, India, Burundi, the US, South Africa, Nigeria, Germany, Uganda and Togo are attending the seminar.

Major Quarshigah said the ministry was ready to give technical advice and appealed to farmers and youth in agriculture to contact regional or district agricultural offices to know the locations of the centres.

He also urged the youth to form groups using information from the Internet and develop viable plans for consideration by local banks. Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Education Youth and Sports, said the deployment and exploitation of Information Communication Technology in areas such as agriculture, engineering, architecture seemed to find acceptance by the youth.

He said the youth were interested in things that were dynamic, real or at least simulated and teachers needed to study their behaviour and learning patterns and apply the appropriate methodologies and tools in the teaching process to meet their needs and achieve their educational goals.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said, however, that until educational institutions in rural areas were prioritised in the provision of electrical and communications infrastructure and charges lowered, the impact of all the efforts would be sub-optimal and equity would not be addressed. He said if ICT-driven approach to educational development were used judiciously, it would open up new frontiers to learn collaborative research among Ghanaian schools and between schools in Ghana and other parts of the continent.

Mrs Paulyn Jansen, Executive Director of AYF, said research it had conducted revealed that curricula and textbooks in secondary schools were often irrelevant to the needs of rural people and seldom focused on crucial skills for life in the rural areas.

She said it was realised that the ministries of education, agriculture, health, finance, universities and research institutions often lacked coordination in targeting the needs of rural people.

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