TWO trade unions have called on the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) to intervene to stop what they describe as “the wanton destruction of the infrastructure for the development of research in Ghana”.
The General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) and the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU), both affiliates of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), made the call at a press briefing in Accra last Monday to draw attention to some issues affecting research activities in the country.
Key among them are the encroachment and grabbing of lands belonging to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The General Secretary of GAWU, Mr Edward Kareweh, indicated that the CSIR and its 13 institutions were bedeviled by a myriad of challenges, including low budgetary allocation and laissez-faire appreciation of research outcomes.
Sadly, he said, some state institutions and agencies were also engaged in encroaching on the parcels of land belonging to the CSIR.
“It sounds quite strange, however, that lands acquired by the government to enhance the activities of the CSIR are being encroached upon by some individuals and government institutions and appointees who should know better,” he said.
He cited the CSIR land at Pokuase, near Accra, as being among those encroached upon under the pretext of affordable housing, adding that attempts to prevent illegal activities there had proved futile because of lack of cooperation from the police.
Importance of Pokuase land to CSIR
Mr Kareweh said the Pokuase land was not lying fallow but was a museum that housed several forages (grasses), creeping legumes (eight), erect legumes (eight), grass (45) and shrubs (10).
He said that land was used for the conservation of N’dama cattle which had a tolerant gene against the trypanosomiasis disease plaguing cattle in the tropics and that it was the only sub-station that hosted a pasture museum in the country.
“Currently, the station is being used in collaboration with the Global Research Alliance for the study of carbon sequestration under cultivated pasture.
“Pastures for study should not be less than six years old. The fields that have been destroyed overnight are 40 years old and were very suitable for these studies,” he said.
The Director the CSIR Animal Research Institute, Prof Emmanuel K. Adu, said the council had taken legal action on the issue and the press conference was to highlight the need to help check such encroachment, looking at the role the council played.
He indicated that from an initial 1,336 acres of land acquired by the government at Frafraha for the Animal Research Institute (ARI), only 256 acres were left.
“We keep grasscutters, sheep, goats, cattle, poultry, rabbits and pigs and have all kinds of structures. The government, in its wisdom, acquired the land due to the nature of what we do there.
“We beseech you to come to the aid of the CSIR and sister institutions in that the CSIR has done and is doing a lot and it must be protected to continue to help Ghana develop,” he said.
The specialist research institutions under the CSIR include the ARI, the Food Research Institute, the Industrial Research Institute, the Water Research Institute, the Soil Research Institute, the Savanna Research Institute, the Institute of Science and Technology and the Strategic Technology Policy Research Institute.
Others are the Building and Road Research Institute, the Plant Genetics Resource Research Institute, the Oil Palm Research Institute, the Crops Research Institute and the Forestry Research Institute.
The unions mentioned other CSIR lands that are encroached upon as its head office at the Airport Residential Area in Accra, the CSIR-SRI land at Kwadaso in Kumasi, the CSIR land at Fumesua in Kumasi, as well as others at Bunso in the Eastern Region and Nyankpala in Tamale in the Northern Region.