CSIR to increase agric productivity with digital hub

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Dr Victor Kwame Agyeman, Director General, CSIR
Dr Victor Kwame Agyeman, Director General, CSIR

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is developing a Digital Agricultural Innovation Hub (DAIH) that will aid farmers and other stakeholders in agriculture to easily access the various technologies available.  

The DAIH hosts a set of reliable and easy-to-use integrated web and mobile-based platforms aimed at sharing knowledge and assisting the agricultural sector with innovative solutions that can be adopted to the real needs of local farmers and other value chain actors.

The Deputy Director General of the CSIR, Prof. Paul P. Bosu, during a capacity-building workshop in Accra for selected media houses, said the DAIH development fell under the ‘Modernising Agriculture in Ghana’ (MAG) broader programme being supported by Global Affairs Canada to shore up Ghana’s agricultural sector development.

He said the intention was to re-orient farmers and others in the value chain towards market-led agribusinesses.

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The MAG Focal Person at CSIR-INSTI, Mr Michael Wilson, noted that there remained a good deal of predictive and advisory research outputs that had over the time remained as publications in journals and databases.

He said it was, however, unfortunate that the farmers and other stakeholders who could benefit from such research findings either did not have access to such useful information at all or did not have them in readily consumable forms.

Therefore, he said the DAIH sought to provide a digital access to the content / data that CSIR possessed.

“Once we do that, it opens a whole room for application development – be it mobile app developers, software and web application developers, among others. They all feed on data and it is the CSIR that has the data,” he explained.

Afterwards, he said the next phase was to target individual users and build solutions from the data for them based on their needs.

Mr Wilson said the CSIR, based on its expertise, had further developed some end-user applications as a demonstration of what could be done.

Consequently, four software applications were developed last year on top of data that research scientists had stored.

These include the ‘Agriteck Advisor’ (provides mobile phone solutions to farmers and others in the value chain), CSIR Technologies Portal (provides a single point of entry for users to find all research technologies available at the CSIR and add-ons), CSIRSpace (makes available research outputs, publications, annual reports) and Kuafo Marketplace (an online portal one for buying and selling).

“The main activity in 2021 on the DAIH is to promote these platforms through a massive media campaign to make people aware that they can get CSIR technologies and invest in them.

“Also, to improve content, we have registered over 4,000 farmer-based organisations to interact on the DAIH, in addition to about 1,500 technical people - give information, advise and offer solutions, among others,” Mr Wilson added.

Research programmes

The CSIR generates and applies innovative technologies and efficiently and effectively exploits science and technology for socio-economic development in critical areas of agriculture, industry, environment, some aspects of public health and social sciences, and improves the scientific culture of civic society in Ghana.

It works in seven thematic areas, namely food security and poverty reduction, climate change and environmental conservation, biotechnology, biomedical and public health, materials, bio products and manufacturing.

The rest are electronics and information and communications technology, energy and petroleum, and science and people / technology for society.

The CSIR has also developed and deployed agricultural technology in the area of crop improvement, new rice, maize and yam varieties, commercial production of high-yielding germinated oil palm seeds, horticultural products, livestock production and guinea fowl production brooding technology that reduces guinea keet mortality from 90 per cent to 10 per cent.

Others are fish farming, value addition, surface water, ground water and low-cost local building material technologies.