The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Effah Berfi on Wednesday called for the need the prioritisation of agricultural research in the sub- region to improve productivity.

He explained that the production methods are mainly obsolete with minimal use of improved technologies such as improved seeds, fertilisers, mechanisation services and irrigation, thus resulting in low yields.

The Deputy Minister made the call in Accra when he opened a three-day international high level Policy Dialogue between Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and small scale farmers on priorities and governance of agricultural research for development in West Africa.

It was organised by Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ECASARD)) and facilitated by the International Institute for Environment and Development and its West African partners.

The dialogue is aimed at among other things to discuss ways of strengthening the converging research agenda of farmers and AGRA in West Africa, identify policies and practices aimed at implementing farmers’ vision and priorities for agricultural research for development in the sub-region.

Mr Berfi noted that appropriate governance of agricultural research was very crucial adding, “Effective governance should propel research to be gender sensitive so that crops which are mainly associated with women can be developed to enable them increase their incomes”.

This he said also demanded that prioritisation be based on the most widely consumed staple foods and their current scales of production, saying, foods with high comparative and competitive advantages should be of high priority for the development of agriculture to help reduce malnutrition and food insecurity.

He called for effective collaboration among stakeholders towards the development of agricultural research for the benefit of the sub-region and ensure that good ethics are observed during the conducts of research to promote development of commodities of high nutrient value and safe to the consumer.

Professor Namaga Ngongi President of AGRA explained that despite the challenges face by farmers in the areas of poor seeds, degraded soils, unreliable rains due to climate change, insufficient finance and credit, Africa’s small scale farmers produce most of the food in Africa.

He noted that about 40 per cent Africa’s Gross Domestic Product came from agriculture and 80 per cent of Africans depended on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Prof Ngongi said despite the importance of agriculture to Africa’s economy, the continent’s commercial banks extended less than three per cent of their lending to the sector. GNA

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