- By:Michael Darko
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The Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Science and Technology has recommended to Parliament to re-introduce and pass the Plant Breeders Bill to protect the intellectual rights of seed producers in the country.
The recommendation follows the inability of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to get any benefit from the seeds it developed in 2017 for the Planting for Food and Jobs programme due to the lack of the legislation.
The CSIR, in support of the government’s planting for food and jobs programme developed several improved varieties of food including sweet potatoes, cassava, cocoyam and yam.
These crops were adopted by Ghanaian farmers, as well as several other farmers in the West Africa region due to their high level of yield.
However, because there was no legislation to protect the new varieties developed, no benefits accrued to the CSIR.
As a result, the committee in its report on the budget estimates of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) recommended the re introduction of the Plant Breeders Bill to ensure that patents of the CSIR are protected and benefits accrue to it.
The Plant Breeders Bill, which was put before Parliament in 2013, went through the first and second consideration stages but was put on hold at the third stage when a pressure group, Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG), raised alarm that the passage of the bill would lead to the imposition of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into the food chain in Ghana.
The FSG, joined by other civil organisations, argued that the introduction of GMOs would lead to commercial exploit of the poor farmers and, therefore, urged Parliament to defer debate on the bill to allow public consultations to be undertaken prior to the introduction of GMOs in Ghana.
Atomic Energy Commission
The committee also noted that although the Atomic Energy Commission participates in the activities of the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), Ghana stood to lose its voting rights because the country had not paid its contribution to the association since 2016.
The country is expected to pay the association a technical contribution fund allowance, national participation cost and regular budget contribution all amounting to €201,695.
The committee ,therefore, urged the Ministry of Finance to pay up the country’s commitment to IAEA to ensure that it does not lose its vote on issues on Atomic Energy, as well as other benefits that may accrue to the Atomic Energy Commission in terms of technical support and equipment.
Nuclear Regulatory Authority
The committee also noted with concern that the Nuclear Regulatory Authority which was set up by law was yet to receive the needed support to function optimally.
The authority still relies on the Atomic energy Commission for support in terms of human resource as it was yet to receive approval to recruit the about 40 new staff that seeks to engage.
The authority was also not able to utilise its Internally Generated Funds (IGF) as support to its operations because the Ministry of Finance (MoF) was yet to capture it as a non-tax revenue organisation.
The committee was, however, satisfied to note that the MESTI was taking steps to ensure that the MoF gave approval for the generation and utilisation of the IGF by the authority.
It was again realised that the authority spent an amount of GH¢ 968,614 for the servicing of vehicles and night allowance when it needed funds to purchase new cars to aid in its activities.
The committee considered the practice as unacceptable and urged MESTI to take a further look at the activities of the authority to ensure that such practices were curbed.
Source: Graphic Online
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The Governing Council of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has said it will pursue the commercialisation of the CSIR as one of the measures to make it more effective and boost its contribution to national development.
Speaking to the management and staff of the CSIR-Water Research Institute (WRI) at a staff durbar in Accra yesterday, the Chairman of the Governing Council, Prof. Robert Kingsford-Adaboh, said that would mean making the goods and services produced by the council more accessible to the public and competitive.
“Commercialisation will help the CSIR harness its potential of making money for itself and the state,” he said.
He proposed the institution of two big trade fairs in a year to be organised by the CSIR to showcase its products and services and make it more visible to the public.
Prof. Kingsford-Adaboh stressed that the CSIR had the potential to increase its internally generated funds, as well as its financial contribution to the state.
He undertook a tour of duty to the institutes under the CSIR to familiarise himself with their operations and challenges and begin a discourse on how to improve their operations.
Prof. Kingsford-Adaboh said there could be no meaningful and sustainable development without science, technology and innovation and, therefore, the CSIR should be seen and should act as the government’s right-hand man.
He said if science, technology and innovation were the engines of sustainable growth, then the CSIR had the growth of the country in its hands and urged them to be hardworking to deliver on their mandate.
He appealed to the staff to go the extra mile to enhance the contribution of the CSIR to national development and in return, their working conditions would automatically improve.
“It is time for us to shift from the paradigm where we see the CSIR as a government institute and, therefore, think that the work could be approached with a lackadaisical attitude,” he said.
He assured the staff and management that the governing council would not interfere with the management of the CSIR but would support it according to its mandate to put the CSIR on the right footing to deliver better on its mandate.
The Director-General of the CSIR, Dr Victor K. Agyeman, bemoaned the phenomenon of most of the institutes making losses and not meeting their financial targets.
He was of the opinion that although the council was faced with financial challenges, it had enough assets and human resources to maximise to generate more internal funds and eventually more funds for the state.
“We are making financial losses because we are not competitive, our products and services are higher than others on the market and it’s about time we think outside the box to do things differently,” he said.
As a result of the situation, Dr Agyeman hinted that the management and staff of all the institutes under the CSIR had begun a dialogue on how to reverse the trend.
The Director of the CSIR Water Research Institute, Dr Osmund Duodu Ansa-Asare, said the WRI was ready to collaborate with the management and governing council to enhance the operations of the CSIR to deliver on its mandate effectively.
Soruce: Graphic online
- By:Michael Darko
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The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in the Northern Region has engaged some farmers in the Tolon District on impending dangers with regard to the fall armyworm infestation in Ghana as they prepare to begin the 2017 cropping season. The engagement, according to Maize Breeder of SARI Madam Gloria Boakye-Adu, is to serve as a platform to build the capacity of farmers by educating them on what to expect in the cropping season and adequately prepare farmers in scouting, detecting, and possible control measures in the fight against the fall armyworm pests on their farms. Fall army worm has already invaded some farms in the southern part of Ghana, destroying about a thousand hectors of farms already. The pests, which were detected in April, 2016, at the close of the 2016 cropping season destroyed a total of 1,038 hectors of farms in the Northern Region alone. The fall army worm originated from Central and South American and found itself into West Africa in January, 2016 and finally arrived in Ghana in April, 2016 after they were detected by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute. The pest, which is the larval form of the fall armyworm moth, has appetite for consuming more than 100 different species including maize, cereals, and leafy vegetables. They destroyed 1.4million hectors of maize and cowpea farms in six regions in 2016 and have destroyed over thousand hectors of farms already in the 2017 cropping season which has been described as unprecedented. Farmers were taken through the live span of the armyworm and how it feeds on plants to create a vivid picture of the pest and put farmers on the lookout for them on their farms. “The Savannah Agriculture Research Institute thinks it is prudent to engage farmers ahead of the 2017 cropping season owing to the over one thousand hectors of farms in 2016 after SARI discovered the pest in April. The engagement which is ongoing in the Northern, Upper East and West Regions seeks to educate farmers on how to detect, scout, and manage the pest on their farms”. Though the pests have already invaded about 30 farms in the Gushegu District and several others in the Tatale-Sanguli district, Madam Gloria Boakye-Adu explains the time is now. The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute opines that engaging farmers on early detection, scouting and management measures before the 2017 cropping season takes a full swing in the region is necessary. On SARI not being proactive on their mandate of research and educating farmers even before the start of the 2017 cropping season to avert the massive destruction, Madam Boakye-Adu revealed SARI needed to research extensively and know the potency. “Farming season is yet to begin here thus we are not behind schedule on this, SARI before we give out anything to our farmers must research and be sure of the potency in what method we give, we engage seed producers, non-governmental organizations who are into farming on these measures”. This advocacy will be extended to the Volta, Central, Brong Ahafo, and Central regions through their partners. She revealed controlling the pest in the 2016 cropping season was a bit difficult because most farmers had already planted as the pest were detected at a critical stage that made it difficult to control. The 2017 armyworm advocacy programme which has already began in the Northern, Upper East, and Upper West regions will be extended to the Volta, Central, Brong Ahafo, and Central regions through their partners to ensure a nationwide success. As part of the awareness creation, SARI has produced detailed brochures for farmers access and learn how to detect and scout for the pests in farms, manage the pests and form supportive groups in the community to control the pest. She encourages farmers not to try to control the pest in isolation as farmers who do will not make much progress because of the polyphagia nature of the pest. “Farmers should form supportive groups in the communities to fight the pests because they will not make much gains if farmers try managing them in isolation because the pests are migratory species”. The team visited some farms, which have already been invaded by the pests. Abdulai Mohammed has been farming for 15 years and he says though he heard of the fall army worm in 2016, he only saw a few of them on his farm during the harvesting period thus the early attack on his farm comes as a new thing to him. “This is my farm. I have been farming for fifteen years. I saw the worms during harvesting in 2016 but saw it this year as soon as my maize shot up. I reported it to the agric director who sent some of his workers to inspect but he later called to confirm that what I have on my farm is army worm so he said the farm would be sprayed. I must confess that this is the first time I am seeing then them this early”.
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The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, has given an assurance to researchers that the proposed increment in scientific research fund from 0.25 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to two per cent will take effect in 2018.
Government has announced the increment on several national platforms since early 2017, including the 2017 State of the Nation Address.
Prof. Frimpong Boateng said the one per cent increment was a short-term measure, which would further be increased to three per cent in the long term.
He indicated that the 0.25 per cent was woefully inadequate to make meaningful scientific development in the country and that had informed the increment.
Inaugurating the Governing Council for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Accra yesterday, Prof. Frimpong Boateng said the delay in effecting the increment was to enable the government to put in place the necessary policies that would make it binding on successive governments.
He said government was committed to developing scientific research because it was a key driver of its development agenda.
“Therefore, the funds will be made available to all researchers in both the private and public sectors and research institutions without discrimination. All researchers doing something good for the nation would have access to the funds,” he said.
Science and development
Prof. Frimpong Boateng said the government had identified the scientific research sector as an integral part of realising the technologically-driven Ghana beyond aid vision.
“No country ever develops without building the capacity in terms of technology to do things related to its development on its own and, therefore, government will commit enough funds to build national capacity in scientific research,” he stated.
He underscored the need for all stakeholders, particularly, the CSIR, to position itself to help run the country and its economy beyond aid.
Science innovation centre
Prof. Frimpong Boateng said as part of measures to develop the scientific research sector, the government was setting up a science innovation centre at the CSIR which would be fitted with the first ever super scientific computer in the country and would be made accessible to all universities and research institutions.
On behalf of the 21-member governing council, its chairman, Prof. Robert Kingsford-Adaboh, expressed gratitude to the President for the confidence reposed in the members and gave am assurance that the council would work hard to ensure that the CSIR lived up to its mandate to accelerate national development.
The council has representatives from MESTI, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce, Heads of Universities in Ghana, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Trade and Industry and Health, the National Development Planning Commission, the CSIR, the Ghana Institute of Engineers, the Chamber of Mines and the Association of Ghana Industries.
- By:Michael Darko
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Ghana and India are collaborating under a Pilot Research Project on Tomato Production, which would ensure that there is abundance production and supply of the crop in the country all year through.
The project which seeks to pilot tomato production technologies in three ecological zones Ada, Kumasi and Navrongo is also aimed at producing more pest resistance, high yielding tomato that would last for many days on the shelf.
Implementation of the Tomato Partnership agreement was signed between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ghana and the National Research Development Co-operation (NRDC) of India, funded by Indian.
The three-year piloting of the project had ended and so the two institutions held an end of project ceremony in Accra, marking the beginning of technology transfer to Ghana.
At the ceremony, officials of the Crop Research Institute of CSIR, Ghana and the NRDC of the Indian CSIR, main implementers of the pilot project, expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the project, saying, when it is fully implemented in all tomato growing areas of the country, it would cut down on imports of tomato from neighbouring countries.
Mrs Stella Ama Ennin, Director of Crop Research Institute–CSIR, said the closing ceremony marks the beginning of taking the findings through a varietal release process by the National Varietal Release Committee to enable a full role up of the programme in the tomato growing community.
She said the finding helped found solution to the tomato yellow leaf curl virus that plague most tomato plants and thereby causing low yields, and also a more resistance seed had been produced to be released to the farmers after being certified through the varietal process.
She said as part of the pilot project, farmers and extension officers were trained on best farming practices, and other irrigation programmes. She said by the end of 2018, all tomato farmers in the communities would have access to the tomato seed for production.
Professor Victor Kwame Agyeman, Director General of CSIR said any intervention or technology that aimed at improving agricultural productivity and enhancing food security and improving the lots of poor smallholder farmers could not be underestimated.
He therefore, commended India for the partnership that would help improve the production of tomato in Ghana, boosting food security, as well as end importation.
“We cannot achieving the United Nation SDG of ending hunger, achieving food security, improving, nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture, when we fail to implement such evidence farming practices.”
Mr Birender Singh Yadav, Indian High Commissioner, said the Embassy would work to ensure that the project become another shining example of India-Ghana partnership.
He explained that the project which involved human resource technology and capacity building was a south-south co-operation showing best practices that would help Ghana become self-sufficient in tomato production.
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, whose speech was read on his behalf said the partnership was very welcoming and the result of the pilot would form the basis for replication in more tomato producing areas in Ghana.
He said the production of tomato, which was one of the most important vegetables that is consumed in every household on daily basis in the country, was faced by many constraints such as poor varieties that have low yields and were susceptible to various diseases and pest.
He said the poor agronomic practices by farmers also contributed to low yields and quality of fruits harvested, which eventually also lead to poor market prices.
He expressed happiness that the project would contribute to the sustainable increase in tomato production and processing in the country so as to, generate employment, reduce rural poverty and enhance agro-industrial growth of the tomato industry in Ghana.
“The successes chalked under this project and the sharing of its results today is in the right direction coming just after the launch of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, which has tomato as one of the focal commodities”, he said.
Dr Girish Sahni, Head of CSIR-India, said science and technology was the only hope to bridge the poverty gap between the rich and the poor, and therefore scientists needed to come together to find solutions to the world’s problems relating to technology.