The Ministers of Food and Agriculture, and Education have pledged to push for the implementation of the National Research Fund to enable scientists and research institutions access the Fund to push further scientific research, innovation and collaboration to drive Ghana’s development agenda.
Ghana’s Parliament in 2021 passed the Ghana National Research Fund Bill, into Law and two years since its passage, the implementation of the Fund has not started.
The Fund, according to government, would, among other private and donor funding sources, provide as the main source, funds for research for the development of Ghana’s Innovation Eco-system.
Various researchers and research institutions particularly the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), have called on government to start with the implementation of the Research Fund to enable researchers access it to carry out strategic research for the development of the nation.
The Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr Bryan Acheampong who spoke at the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), ALUMNI Homecoming and 16th Anniversary Celebration in Accra on Thursday, said, government’s Planting for Food and Jobs program would be successful if farmers have access to researched and improved seedlings that would increase their yields many folds.
He said his Ministry stands ready to partner WACCI to train Ghanaian plant breeders who will develop and produce climate-smart solutions and equip the country’s farmers with knowledge and tools to enhance food production.
Dr Acheampong said government is determined to address the country’s food insecurity by creating the enabling space for WACCI and other research institutions to push the boundaries of scientific research and innovation to realise the country’s agricultural potentials.
The Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum whose speech was read on his behalf at the WACCI anniversary celebration, said, Ghana’s economy must be anchored on the strategic application of Science, Technology and Innovation.
He said it is for this reason that government has made huge investment into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education particularly in the Junior and High schools levels.
He said the global economy is changing and current jobs are disappearing due to automation as a result of technological advancement.
Dr Adutwum said the continual advances in technology are changing the way students learn, connect and interact every day, and added that skills developed by students through STEM, underpinned by scientific research, would provide them with the foundation to succeed at school and beyond.
The Education Minister said government plans to develop a nationwide infrastructure to support innovation, train the youth, and equip them with knowledge and tools to create sustainable innovations.
Through his Ministry, Dr Adutwum said Government is in the process of introducing major curricula reforms throughout the country’s formal education system with the focus of STEM.
Employer demand for STEM qualifications and skills is high, and will continue to increase in the future. Currently, 75 per cent of jobs in the fastest growing industries require workers with STEM skills. To be competitive, the Ghanaian workforce needs people who can adapt to a changing workplace. STEM empowers individuals with the skills to succeed and adapt to this changing world.
The Government has set-up a 10-year target within which STEM would account for the largest part of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The WACCI as part of celebrating the milestone, had outlined a 3-day programme to recognise and honour the exceptional contribution of WACCI alumni to address food and nutrition insecurity in African countries.
WACCI relaunched its $50 million Fund raising to train the next generation of Ghana and African plant breeders to enhance food production in Ghana and in Africa.
WACCI Founding Partner, Dr Ronnie Coffman, the Guest of Honour, Dr Joe Devries, President of Seed Systems Group, Kenya, and the keynote Speaker, Prof. Giles Oldroyd, Director of Crop Science Centre and Russell R. Geiger Professor of Crop Science, University of Cambridge were at the WACCI program to grace the anniversary celebration.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD