Trade unions have appealed to the government to take agricultural research (AR) seriously, looking at its importance to the country’s agriculture development.
They said that increasing agricultural productivity remained important for development and that AR had an important role to play because new technologies, inputs and techniques of production that increased productivity were developed through AR.
The General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Mr Edward Kareweh, said the important role of research to the sector was obvious and that a policy like the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) was anchored on the research institutions.
He said the government’s policy on PFJ rested on research, particularly in relation to improved seeds, improved seedling, species, livestock and so on.
“So, the implication is dire. Going into the future, agric is going to collapse and those policies will not succeed if we do not stop the invasion of the lands of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR),” he said in an interview after a press briefing in Accra.
The Public Services Workers Union (PSWU) and GAWU, affiliates of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), organised the press briefing in Accra to draw attention to some crucial matters affecting research activities in Ghana.
Key among them was the encroachment and grabbing of lands belonging to the CSIR.
He indicated that lands belonging to the CSIR and its 13 institutions were museums of the field and that if they were destroyed future Ghanaians who would want to do a research and acquire certificate in that field cold not pursue it.
He cited that some PhD students had got their research work destroyed today because they were making their trials there to confirm certain hypothesis and to come out with new theories and new outcomes that could add up to development.
“With the destruction, they have lost everything, and they may not be able to graduate. They either must change their courses, or they abandon the whole thing all together. So, you can see the gravity of it on all of us,” he stated.
The state of CSIR lands
Addressing the press, Mr Kareweh described as sad the rate of encroachments on lands belonging to research institutes, notable among them being the CSIR lands at Pokuase, a suburb of Accra.
He said that station was currently the only one in Ghana that produced the multi-nutrient feed block using pasture material in addressing the perennial dry season feeding that results in the cattle herder-farmer conflict.
Mr Kareweh noted that livestock contribute US$1.3 trillion to the world economy and provide jobs and livelihood for over 600 million people, including Ghana.
“Interestingly, livestock production in developing countries is expected to rise and so research on livestock has serious implication for livelihoods in developing countries and the global community as a whole,” he said.
The two unions have therefore appealed to the Ministers of Science and Technology, and Works and Housing to intervene to stop what they described as the wanton destruction of the infrastructure for the development of research in Ghana.
The specialist research institutions under the CSIR include; the Animal Research Institute, Food Research Institute, Industrial Research Institute, Water Research Institute, Soil Research Institute, Savanna Research Institute, Institute of Science Technology and Institute, Strategic Technology Policy Research Institute, Building and Road Research Institute, Plant Genetics Resource Research Institute, Oil Palm Research Institute, Crop Research Institute and Forestry Research Institute.