Friends of the Nation (FoN), a non-governmental organisation, with support from the European Union (EU), has launched a programme to help transform the country’s agriculture sector.
Christened the Research for Development and Innovation Agriculture and Learning (ReDIAL), the four-year project is aimed at contributing to the transformation and innovation of the agriculture sector and food systems in Ghana through project research, application of innovative technologies and organisation of farmers and multi-stakeholder platforms.
The specific objective of the project is to foster innovation in improving soil fertility in the country by generating scientific knowledge and data while applying innovative technology to improve threshing of grains and cereals.
The project is being supported by the European Union (EU) with an amount of 2.12 million euros for implementation.
This was disclosed by the Executive Director of FoN, Mr Donkris Mevuta, at the launch of the programme in Accra on October 14, 2020.
Planting for food and jobs
He said the project was designed to be anchored to the government’s Planting For Food and Jobs programme.
“The project is also aligned to the country’s national medium-term development policy framework 2018-2021 and will complement the programme through project research while providing information and ICT data to inform policy decisions for the delivery of effective planning for the agricultural sector.
“It will also contribute to the development of climate-resilient agriculture and food security systems as outlined in the Ghana National Climate Change Policy Project Programme for implementation,” he noted.
Mr Mevuta said the project had a gender perspective and provided targeted support for women and youth engaged in farming by providing them with access to the innovative technologies that would help them increase their farm productivity.
He pointed out that the pilot areas for the project were the Yendi Municipality of the Northern Region, Techiman Municipality of the Bono East Region, Ejura-Sekyeredumase Municipality in the Ashanti Region, Kwahu Afram Plains North District in the Eastern Region and the Sefwi Wiawso District in the Western North Region.
Low productivity in agric
The Chairman for the launch, Professor Okatakyie Amenfi Vii, who is the Omanhene of Asebu Traditional Area, in his statement noted that agriculture in Africa was characterised by low productivity.
He said about 33 million smallholder farmers produced over 80 per cent of the food grown on the continent, yet smallholder farmers and their families remained some of the poorest people in the world.
With the world’s population set to hit nine billion by 2050, he said he was of the view that to be able to meet the projected food demand, agricultural productivity would have to more than double and it had to happen in the face of climate change, water shortages and decreasing availability of arable land.
Situation in Ghana
He noted that in Ghana, farming provided the lifeline for millions of livelihoods by offering work and food but smallholder farmers largely engaged in subsistence-based production.
“By increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers, more than half the world’s poor will climb out of poverty and ensure food security, healthy communities, thriving economy, while improving environmental issues.
“I am, therefore, happy that the ReDIAL project is designed to support farmers and also decrease some of the key challenges in agriculture, particularly soil fertility and post-harvest losess,” he stated.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the launch of the project would help to modernise and accelerate the growth of agriculture for smallholder farmers on a sustainable basis.