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Savanna Agricultural Research Institute On the Verge of Collapse

2009-01-26 23:08:01
This article has been read 902 times.

The Manga station of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) is in the process of conducting trials on a drought-resistant maize variety, which would subsequently be made available to farmers for cultivation.

Dr. Roger Kanton, research scientist and officer in-charge of the research station near Bawku, told Public Agenda that when fully tried and replicated, the new breed could hold the key to the country's quest for food security.

He explained that the drought-tolerant maize was capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions such as those that prevailed in the three Northern Regions, in addition to having a relatively shorter maturity period. This makes it ideal for the equally short spells of rain the area experiences yearly.

It was originally researched and developed by the International Maize and Wheat Research Institute in Peru incollaboration with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria, under the "Green Revolution for Africa" project sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of the United States.

The breed was then presented to some selected regions in Africa, including Ghana, Benin, Mali, and Nigeria. In Ghana, SARI and the Crops Research Institute have adopted it for trial to determine its suitability, for the northern sector of Ghana, where the rainy seasons are often short-lived.

Dr. Kanton stressed that no nation aspiring to develop could undermine the significance of scientific research, adding that the vision to move Ghana into the middle-income bracket could be accelerated if government gave the needed support to agricultural research institutions.

"The agro-processing industry in this country would also be activated to provide employment and maximize the export of processed agricultural produce to earn the nation more income," he added.

He regretted the under funding of research by successive governments, and said if care was not taken research institutions in the country would collapse for their inability to attract and retain young researchers. He said out of five scientists stationed at Manga initially, he was the only remaining one at the moment. However, he had recently been able to persuade a number of science students in the country's universities to come to the station on practical attachment with the hope that they would stay after completing their studies.

Dr. Kanton also mentioned inadequate water supply and the lack of means of transport to facilitate the movement of scientists.

He hinted that SARI which conducts research into the agricultural sector in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Brong Ahafo Regions was on the verge of collapse and was only surviving now due to donor support. He urged Members of Parliament (MPs) and other prominent politicians from the three Northern Regions to lobby government for substantial budgetary allocations to revive the Institute.


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