COMMISSIONING OF UNIVERSITY OF GHANA CENTRE FOR INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
The Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) commissioned the University of Ghana Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on 6th September, 2019 at the University of Ghana. This facility which was sponsored by the Skills Development Fund (SDF), OBZ Group of Companies and the College of Basic and Applied Sciences included the acquisition and installation of a state-of-the-art growing Solar Powered EnviroDome Greenhouse and Pack house, three single size growing Standard EnviroDome Greenhouse Ventilation Systems and a double size growing Standard EnviroDome Greenhouse Ventilation Systems for the production of safe and healthy vegetables for commercial purposes as well as for training and research.
The programme which was chaired by the Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences(CBAS), Professor Daniel Asiedu was attended by a representative of the Minister for Food and Agriculture, The Vice Chancellor of UG, Advisory Board Members of the IAST, Chief Executive Officers of SDF and OBZ Group, Deans, Heads of Department, faculty and staff, government agencies as well as the general public. In his welcome address, the Provost of CBAS was delighted the project had been well executed.
Provost, College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Prof. Daniel Asiedu addressing the gathering
In his presentation, Professor George Oduro Nkansah, Director of the Institute of Applied Science and Technology pointed out that there were a lot of greenhouses in the country but the EnviroDome Greenhouse was customized to the tropics with thermal screening and ventilation systems. He stated that the centre has been established for commercial purposes and training of students and stakeholders in the vegetable industry. According to the Director, the Centre is a facility for technical and vocational education. He said in 2015, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture conformed to an EU directive that banned the exportation of some vegetables to the European market due to frequent detection of some harmful organisms and chemical residues on vegetables from Ghana. However, the EnviroDome Greenhouse has been designed with netting systems that screens both plant and fruits from pest infestation. In juxtaposing the yield from the open field to that of the greenhouse, he stated that a current research showed that the yield of tomato in the open field system stood at 20 tons/hectare while the greenhouse yielded about 250 tons/hectare. He thanked the SDF, OBZ Group and CBAS for partnering the Institute to come up with such an innovative Centre.
Professor George Oduro Nkansah, Director, IAST addressing the gathering
In addressing the audience, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu informed the audience that the essence of the project was to ensure that University of Ghana took the lead in healthy and safe vegetable production so people can eat their vegetables without any thought of insecticide contamination. He said the facility will help the IAST to bridge the gap between University of Ghana and Industry by providing training for the horticultural industry as well as producing safe and healthy vegetables to feed the University community and others.
Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, giving his address
In a speech read on behalf of the Minister for Food and Agriculture by Ms Esther Nuotuo, He indicated that the agricultural sector is the backbone of Ghana’s economy and it employs over 50 percent of the national labour force along the value chain. He stated that agriculture is an important contributor to Ghana’s export earnings but the inability of producers from the horticultural sub-sector to meet the quality standards of both local and international market has created bottlenecks for industry. He mentioned that the problem became very apparent in September 2015, when MOFA intervened and placed a temporary ban on exports of some vegetables to the European Union market due to the evolution of high interceptions with quarantine pests. The Minister said though the ban has been lifted as a result of improvements, the challenges have not been completely addressed. He was therefore delighted that the Centre had come at a better time to addresses the gaps in safe and healthy vegetable production. He also emphasized that the project was in tandem with the president’s aim of modernising the agricultural sector as it supported the government’s 1D1F and Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiatives. The Centre he acknowledged also has the expertise to complement government’s efforts through the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP), Exim Bank’s Youth in Greenhouse Enterprise Project (YUGEP) and West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) in training the unemployed youth in the installation and production of fruits and vegetables in greenhouses.
Ms. Esther Nuotuo, delivering a speech on behalf of the Minister of Food and Agriculture
The Deputy Fund Manager of the Skills Development Fund, Mr. Dunwell Ekow Eku expressed his pleasure at seeing the project being well executed by the Institute of Applied Science and Technology. He stated that the commissioning has brought the facility installation to an end and thanked the Institute for ensuring the successful completion of the funded project.
Mr. Dunwell Ekow Eku, Deputy Fund Manager of the Skills Development Fund addressing the gathering
Staff of IAST and Support team at the Greenhouse centre