March 29, 2016
In Ghana, small scale farmers are national assets. They form the bulk of the workforce in the agricultural sector, which is totally dependent on water availability and are the ones feeding the nation.
But the sector is no longer as productive as it used to be due to shrinking land for farming as population soars; evolving competitive land uses; soil degradation; water scarcity; desertification and climate change. Farming methods and practices are still at best rudimentary.
Thus, the tradition of generational farming in farming communities is gradually dying out and threatening the country’s food security. This attest to the fact that the country’s agri-food systems are not sustainable nowadays.
But sustainable food systems are crucial in providing a healthy and productive future for young people in Ghana and the Africa continent as well as around the world.
The situation calls for radical transformation. And according to the CGIAR Consortium, “analysis of food system challenges shows that radical transformation is urgently needed. Such transformation requires accelerated innovation and that, in turn, requires increased investment in agri-food research to power the engine that drives innovation.” That is, innovation specifically targeting agri-food systems.
To this end, CGIAR has launched the second generation of Consortium Research Programmes (CRP). It is focused on improving coordination and collaboration among CGIAR related institutions and organisations within selected geographical areas known as Site Integration at country levels. Here, activities are within specific field research sites with a clear mechanism to produce outcomes in line with national agriculture development priorities. This approach has the potential to accelerate productivity in prioritised areas of agriculture.
This CGIAR supported initiative is being implemented in 20 countries including Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, DR Congo, Mali and Niger, have been selected as Site Integration areas. Other countries are Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. The rest are Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Vietnam.
A Steering Committee consisting of representatives of all CGIAR Centers and CGIAR Research Programmes (CRP) operating in Ghana has been formed, to drive the country collaboration process under the auspices of the International Water Management Institute.
The National Consultative Process in Ghana
The International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a member of CGIAR Consortium has been assigned the coordination responsibility for the planning and the organization of the National Consultation for Ghana.
The idea is to establish a network of CGIAR related research institutions and organisations in Ghana for effective dialoguing, information generation and sharing, integrated planning and collaborative research. The goal is to institute a system for ensuring cost effectiveness, governance and scaling of research impacts.
To ensure that all partners in Ghana are abreast of these issues, IWMI in collaboration with MoFA and CSIR on the 2nd – 3rd March, 2016, organized a two-day National Consultation Workshop in Accra. They discussed how the integrated efforts of CGIAR Centres can be aligned and made to complement national priorities and those of other partners, to support the overall national development agenda. They also devised plans for tracking, monitoring and assessing the impacts of implemented activities.
They have additionally advanced a mechanism for enhancing the knowledge base that will support the dissemination of best practices in institutional development, policy development and capacity building for agricultural research. The network is expected to make significant contribution to CGIAR’s work in Ghana.
Initial CGAIR supported programmes in Ghana have produced tangible results. These include serving as a source of information and tools on a range of issues in the agriculture sector feeding into policy processes and development of medium term plans. Another is the development of a National Climate-Smart Agriculture and Food Security Action Plan (2016 – 2020) to promote climate-smart agriculture and operationalize the national climate change policy of Ghana.
Other achievements are establishment of rice sector development hubs in various ecological zones; and creation of Innovative Platforms that provides a forum for dialoguing among farmers, service providers, input dealers, aggregators, processors, millers and retailers; contribution to the development of enhanced varieties of root tubers and banana crops. The programme is also involved in recycling urban liquid and solid waste by developing waste-based organo-mineral fertilizer that can enhance agricultural yields.
The CGIAR Centres in Ghana are also implementing several activities on agricultural water management for dry season farming. This is building the capacity of farmers to move away from total dependency on rain-fed agriculture to irrigation based farming, thereby ensuring sustainable agricultural production year round.
The writer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org