The Director West Africa Centre For Crop Improvement (WACCI) Prof. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah has touted the government’s efforts working towards ending hunger in Africa and encouraged governments in Africa to support Universities to make more impact.
Prof. Danquah was speaking at the Cowpea Value Chain Workshop organized here in Accra on “Sustainable Intensification of Cowpea Production and Value Chain Development” under the WACCI led Africa Union- European Union funded the project.
“We fully support the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs Programme as well as the Ghana Beyond Aid Vision, but we must caution that if our development efforts are not informed by evidenced-based decisions underpinned by good Science and Technology all that we doing today will end up to naught” he cautioned.
He intimated that Agriculture was at a tipping point and it was important for innovation to drive Agribusinesses to turn our country around and make our nation prosperous.
He said that WACCI was originally established with a seed grant of about US$ 11.5 million from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and is now one of the World Bank Africa Centres of Excellence.
According to him, WACCI is now Agricultural Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institution. “Integral to WACCI’s ACE Impact Project is the US$ 1 million African Union Commission-European Union project that has allowed WACCI to invite important stakeholders for conversations aimed at impacting the Cowpea Value Chain for the economic prosperity of our dear country, Ghana in our quest to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” whispered Prof. Danquah.
On his part Dr. Francis Kusi, who is also a Scientist with the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) whispered that “Recycling of seeds by farmers and some seed growers, unsustainable activities of some projects (e.g. free inputs), lack of mechanised production practice (planters, harvesters, threshers), poor production practices, indiscriminate use of insecticides, high post-harvest losses and poor marketing and pricing” he said are some of the challenges within the Cowpea Value Chain.
A Senior Officer with the Directorate of Crop Services with Ministry of Food & Agriculture (MoFA) also stated that limited availability of improved seeds (Breeder, Foundation & Certified) is a huge problem with the Cowpea Value Chain.
A lecture and a Cowpea Breeder with the University for Development Studies Dr. Sanatu M. Alidu also added that Potential yield for Cowpea in Ghana is about 2.5 t/ha whiles average yield is about 1.3 t/ha. She added that the reasons for the yield gap are insect pest affect cowpea right from field until storage. As a result, farmers use all kinds of chemicals to control resulting in residuals in the harvested grain and consequently, food poisoning.
Mary Larkai, who spoke on behalf Cowpea Marketers edged WACCI to continue to organize this kind of workshops. She believes it is a platform for extensive discussions on key issues affecting the production, processing and marketing of cowpea in Ghana.
In his closing remarks Prof. Danquah acknowledged the collective efforts of the scientists and administrators who have worked hard and tirelessly to ensure the holding of the Workshop. He noted that Dr. John Eleblu who hosted the first in the series of commodity value chain workshops at WACCI deserves high praise for the instrumental role he continues to play in WACCI’s African Union Commission-European Union project.
Also present at the workshop were representatives from the MoFA, WACCI, Alliance for Science Ghana, Chamber for Agribusiness Ghana, Farmerline, YPARD, OCP, FBOs, Grains and Legumes Development Board and NASTAG.