Graphic Business News

New hub to shape agribusiness ideas

By: Ama Amankwah Baafi
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Prof Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana (arrowed), and Mr Andrew Barnes (left), Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, with some dignitaries during the inauguration of the agriculture innovation hub.
Prof Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana (arrowed), and Mr Andrew Barnes (left), Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, with some dignitaries during the inauguration of the agriculture innovation hub.

An agriculture hub, “the Kofi Annan Enterprise hub for Agricultural Innovation (KAEHAI), has been established at the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), at the University of Ghana, Legon (UG), to equip the youth in Africa to birth ideas which will grow into agribusinesses.

The Founding Director of the WACCI, Prof. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, said the model of equipping the youth in Africa with knowledgeable skills, when tested in July, this year, in collaboration with the MIT of Massachusetts, was evident that the youth were begging for knowledge, ideas and empowerment to run with agribusiness to promote socio-economic growth.

“We don’t eat potential but we have to show. And we want to tell governments in Africa and all over the world that the UGL has arrived and has the capacity to turn Africa into a hub for innovations,” Prof Danquah who is also the interim President of the African Plant Breeders Association (APBA), said during the inauguration of the KAEHAI.

The inauguration of the hub, established with support from the Australian High Commission in Ghana, took place at the launch of the APBA and its maiden international conference at the UGL.

Prof Danquah said all the facilities at WACCI would form the basis for incubates to get the knowledge and skills to drive their ambitions.

“It is a public private partnership to take Africa on to ensure that the youth assemble here and we are going to mount an ambitious project which we believe will make us proud,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor of the UG, Prof Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, said Africa could not be crawling while others were running and that without investment in agric SDG 2 (zero hunger) cannot be met.

“It is important to get the youth to understand that farming is business and is a huge investment one can make and be much successful,” he said.

The APBA launch and conference
The APBA launch and maiden conference took place from October 23-25, 2019 and  was organised on the theme, “Advances in classical breeding and application of modern breeding tools for food and nutrition security in Africa.”

It brought together about 300 scientists, researchers, national agriculture policy makers, students and professionals from both public and private sectors in the fields of plant breeding and seed science.

The APBA has an objective to drive food and nutrition security agenda on the continent; Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2) and the African Union Agenda 2063.

The objectives of the conference was is to share knowledge, build partnerships, generate and publicise solutions to modernise breeding programmes for the transformation of agriculture in Africa.

It also discussed a wide variety of issues impeding food security in Africa.

Prof Danquah noted that in spite of evidence through research of how plant breeding could impact socio-economic  development hugely and improve biodiversity, there was generally less awareness on the importance of plant breeding with regard to capacity to drive innovation and technology. 

He said that without a critical mass of scientists in Africa working in key institutions the Africa expected, envisioned in Agenda 2063 and SDG 2 will not be met.

“It’s important for African governments to understand that anything we do must be informed by proper science and technology infused investment.

“The APBA will be a platform to showcase innovations and bring a change in agric. We shall not import blueprints of solutions that do not work in Africa. We shall not outsource our science. We shall develop African solutions to Africa problems,” he said.

The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in charge annual crops, Dr Sagre Bambangi, said plant breeders saved the world from hunger globally. 

“We firmly encourage the implementation of a predictable and reliable user friendly and affordable regulatory framework to ensure that farmers have access to high quality seeds at fair price without which their ability to withstand the challenges ahead will be substantially impaired,” he said.

He lauded the association for the initiative to come together and urged them to work hard to solve the challenges ahead in the sector.