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02.09.2004 General News

Government urged to transform agriculture

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Accra, Sept 2, GNA - A Soil Scientist has called on the Government to initiate dynamic measures to transform the country's agriculture into a modern and sustainable source of revenue for national development. Professor Samuel G. K. Adiku of the Soil Science Department, Faculty of Agriculture Science, University of Ghana, Legon, noted that though the Government's agriculture policy was comprehensive, it required effective co-ordination between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and other related ministries to achieve the desired results.

In an interview with the GNA in Accra on Tuesday, Prof. Adiku said that even though Ghana seemed to be enjoying food security, it was imperative for the authorities to support farmers to increase production to meet the increasing population and for export. He urged the Government to provide infrastructure and amenities such as roads, water, electricity, hospitals and schools in rural areas to encourage the youth to stay there to undertake agriculture activities instead of migrating to the urban centres for non-existing white-collar jobs.

Prof Adiku said though research was expensive, the Government should invest in that area to find lasting solutions to problems facing farmers.

He said: " Despite the fact that a particular study might require huge capital and might not be able to produce the exact expected results, it could lead to new discoveries that might assist in solving other nagging problems".

Prof Adiku urged the authorities to ensure that the communication gap between MOFA and research institutions including the Universities was bridged, so that farmers through MOFA Extension Service and other important bodies could receive findings of studies on time for the development of agriculture.

He said agriculture research should be broad-based to include food and animal production, disease and pest control, farming practices, post-harvest management, land tenure systems, processing and marketing and that studies in the Universities were limited in scope because of inadequate funding.

Prof Adiku suggested that all agriculture research institutions should be placed under MOFA to ensure co-ordination and to avoid duplication of efforts and said studies in agricultural institutions were often academic inclined and could not necessarily provide direct answers to problems facing farmers.

He noted that even though MOFA had commissioned extensive research into food and animal production, studies in storage, processing, transportation and marketing, remained inadequate, affecting agriculture development.

Prof Adiku called on MOFA to upgrade its stations at Pokuase, Kade, Akatsi and Kpeve to include researchers to serve farmers at the local level and to formulate an elaborate Soil Conservation Policy to prevent pollution, degradation and erosion of soils.

He said: " For life to be sustained, soil comes first. It is the beginning and last of life. Some people believe that the first responsibility of mankind is for him to till the soil and take care of it".

Prof Adiku expressed regret that soil in some parts of the country had been eroded due to improper land management and cited certain areas in the northern sector of the country where soils containing ions had been eroded and hardened to form 'plinthite' losing its fertility and difficult to till, adding that there was no known scientific method for reversing the situation.

He urged farmers to adopt modern agriculture practices and said the shifting cultivation system whereby land was abandoned and allowed to regain fertility had become outmoded in view of population increase. Prof Adiku called on MOFA to zone agriculture lands into various crop/food production areas and to conduct soil-testing adding: " in developed countries like the USA, soil report are a pre-requisite for the application for loans".

He also asked MOFA to invest in climatic forecast to compliment the day-to-day weather forecast by the Meteorological Services Department to give lead-time of at least three to four months for agriculture planning to avert crop failure.