A summit to discuss the effective use of research and data to facilitate private investment in agriculture was held in Accra yesterday.
The summit was organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the US government’s ‘Feed the Future Initiative.’
It was intended to encourage evidence-based policy initiatives to boost agricultural productivity in Ghana.
It was also to explore how proposed policies could improve food security and increase private sector investment in Ghana’s agricultural sector.
As part of the summit, nine research findings and recommendations carried out by Ghanaian researchers on agriculture were presented.
The acting Mission Director at the USAID, Mr Steven Hendrix, said the USAID was going to partner the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and other stakeholders to transform Ghana’s agricultural sector.
“Together we are working to transform Ghana’s agriculture sector to attract private sector investment, boost the incomes of smallholder farmers and promote economic opportunities,” he said.
He believed that Ghana could become the bread basket of West Africa if the gap between agricultural research and policy making was bridged.
“Where policy making is concerned, we believe research is a critical component to creating the most effective policies. It is important that we build strong relationships with research institutions so that data could be fully utilised for Ghana’s agricultural growth,” Mr Hendrix added.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the government was private sector friendly and would ,therefore, support the sector to grow to facilitate the country’s development.
“The ‘planting for food and jobs’ is being delivered through government’s support to sector players in the value chain, including the private sector. The initiative is hitched on five pillars, including seed, fertiliser, extension services, marketing and E-agriculture.
“This will also require that the MOFA works with research to undertake both quantitative and qualitative analysis to provide the evidence needed to guide policy decisions,” he stated.
On food security, one of the researchers from the University of Cape Coast, Mr Michael Adu, recommended that there was the need for development partners to synchronise their measurement and indicators of food security outcomes.
He also opined that some food security indicators were explicitly incorporated into intervention designs while bearing in mind the potential need for counterfactuals.
“Open data or information policies should be given practical meaning in development-oriented interventions,” Mr Adu added.
On rice farming in Ghana, another researcher from the University for Development studies, Mr Franklin Mabe, recommended that the MOFA encouraged contract farming, while improving on infrastructure including the construction of roads and irrigation facilities in rice production communities.
“Research should also adopt the demand-driven approach to vigorously look into rice production, farmer innovation systems, improve upon it and make it available to farmers for adaptation,” he added.