Business News of 2014-07-04

CRI embarks on project to improve food security

The Crop Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in association with its partner institutions, is in the advanced stages of a four-year project to improve food security in the country.
The partner institutions are the Animal Research Institute (ARI) and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Under the project, the CSIRO of Australia, a foreign collaborator of the CRI, has been providing funds and technical support to ensure that the project becomes successful.
The “Small-Crop Ruminant Project” was begun in November 2011 and is expected to end in November 2015, and it brings all actors in the small-crop ruminant food chain processes together to brainstorm on ways to improve yield.
The project involves growing crops that are fed to small ruminants, whose droppings are subsequently used as manure that is used to fertilise and enrich the land for crop cultivation.
The project is being piloted in four countries in West Africa, namely Ghana, The Gambia, Benin and Mali.
In Ghana, it has been on a pilot in four communities, namely, Atebubu and Amantin in the Atebubu-Amantin District and Wulugu and Wongu in the West Mamprusi District in the Brong Ahafo and the Northern regions, respectively.
An Innovative Platform (IP) of about 30 members, made up of the media, research scientists, policy makers, agricultural extension officers, farmers, traders, butchers, meat processors, tractor operators, district assemblies and chiefs, has been formed to learn and discuss the essentials of the project.
The Regional Co-ordinator for the project, who also doubles as a research scientist with the CRI, Dr Stella Ama Ennin, in a discussion with the Daily Graphic after an IP meeting at Amantin, said one objective of the project was to have farmers see themselves as innovators.
She said if farmers took the project seriously and put into practice the counselling and instructions from resource persons, food security would be greatly improved and food productivity would increase.
She urged the participants to quicken the pace at which they adopted new efficient and effective technologies on their farms.
Dr Ennin said the CRI had developed a brochure for agricultural extension officers to be studied and the knowledge gained applied in support of the project.
A research scientist from the CSIRO of Australia, Dr Richard Stirzaker, was assisted by Mr Eric Owusu Danquah, a research scientist from the CRI, to demonstrate to members of the IP the way to measure the moisture content of soil on the farm.
Dr Stirzaker asked the farmers among the IP participants in particular to ensure that water, air and fertiliser were available if they were to produce improved yields.