Government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Policy must prioritise agricultural modernization as the sure way to help improve the livelihoods of farmers, a lecturer at the Biotechnology Center of the University of Ghana said during a discussion led by the director of the Alliance for Science Sarah Davidson Evanega. The session was under the theme: “Can biotechnology play a role in the development of Africa?” and of course also the new programme PFJ presented by President Akufo-Addo was a topic in it.
Let us remind:
The Ghanaian government launched the PFJ policy earlier this year, announcing it will be hinged on five main pillars. They are provision of improved seeds, the supply of fertilizers, provision of extension services, improved marketing strategies and the use of e-Agriculture.
The programme aims to increase maize production by 30 percent, rice by 49 percent, soybeans by 25 percent and sorghum by 28 percent.
It sounds great and promising at first sight, but lecturer Dr Daniel Dzidzienyo, who is also an associate faculty member at the West Africa Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI), knows that modernization and investing in the future is badly in need to change something and must play the main role in the plans of the government. He observed that challenges that the agricultural sector faces including climate change and low remuneration among farmers can only be dealt with if science and technology are imbibed into work on the farms.
We need to modernize agriculture to improve the lives of rural dwellers. Increase productivity, alleviate poverty and end hunger.”
“In Ghana, about 60 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture but we can’t feed ourselves…A significant number of Ghanaians go to bed hungry. There is a lot of poverty. Farmers don’t get the needed returns for their labour and investment.”
The expert also received encouragement from other colleagues, who know about the indispensability of modernization as well:
Nigerian journalist Nkechi Isaac, who was also present on the panel, said: “There has been a dip in the price of oil and that led Nigeria into deep recession…the government is looking at diversifying and there is no way we can go into agriculture without modernizing. If we are going to feed the population, we need biotechnology to boost agriculture.”
Philibert Nyinondi, a researcher at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania noted the need for access to improved seeds to help increase yields in his country as well. He said farmers are yearning for such technologies:
“Farmers in Tanzania visited Burkina Faso and realised that the cotton there is doing so well, and they jumped on the seeds…If we have technology that can save the lives of millions and we can give it to them. Why are we here discussing whether Africa will accept it?” he noted.