ISSER Holds Annual ReNAPRI Stakeholder Conference in West Africa

Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, has called for the adaptation of an all-round model that will equip farmers to approach farming as a business with the potential of offering them decent incomes and sustainable jobs. Prof. Amfo was speaking at the 8th Annual Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes (ReNAPRI) Stakeholders Conference in West Africa hosted by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER). The theme of the conference was, “Transform: Toward Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems in Africa”.

The Vice-Chancellor emphasised how pivotal agriculture was to existence on the globe since it provided food, raw materials and employment. She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic occurred at a time when several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were recovering from drought, floods and locust invasion.

Prof. Amfo, additionally, stated that since agricultural products were mainly produced in rural areas, dispersal of food items to city centers were impeded due to poor road networks, inadequate logistics and others. She advocated for deliberate policy interventions to improve infrastructure in areas where agriculture was widespread to improve economies of scale, smoothen the value chain, and enhance food security and economic growth. She also noted that eating patterns in West Africa over the years have transformed since certain pathologies that were previously rare are now common. She encouraged the integration and reinvention of old culinary practices of food and nutrition into modern lives.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Prof. Peter Quartey, Director, ISSER, stated that the Insititute and the University were privileged to host the international conference for the first time in West Africa. He said the conference will strengthen the relationship with ReNAPRI and provide new opportunities for ISSER and the University of Ghana. Prof. Quartey added that the theme for the conference was timely as agriculture played a critical role to the economy.

Prof. Peter Quartey, Director, ISSER

He noted that food shortages and farming have led to hyper-inflation of food prices in some countries and political unrest in others. Prof. Quartey reiterated the importance of boosting the value chain in terms of production, processing, marketing and distribution.

In a goodwill message, Prof. Daniel Frimpong Ofori, Acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs and Provost, College of Humanities, expressed delight that the ReNAPRI Conference provided a platform for Research Institutes to collaborate on issues pertinent to the agricultural development of the continent. He cited how the COVID-19 and lockdown hindered people from engaging in their daily routines by inhibiting farmers from going to till lands, preventing food items from being moved from farm gates to the market, and also discouraging people from going to markets to buy food items. Prof. Ofori further advocated the need for creative and academic minds to generate knowledge to address issues of mitigation. He was hopeful that the deliberations of the Conference would be fruitful in providing food for the nation, whilst maintaining a healthy environment for future generations.

Dr. Miltone Ayieko, Chairperson, ReNAPRI Board Director, expressed appreciation to the University of Ghana and ISSER for being a member of ReNAPRI. He reiterated that Africa had faced a number of challenges with COVID-19 being the main factor, as it practically affected production systems, trade and the value chain around the globe. Dr. Ayieko indicated that there was the need to build stronger African institutions that could provide relevant, timely and credible evidence to national government and other African institutions charged with making decisions that benefit all citizens.

Dr. Miltone Ayieko

Mr. Seth Osei-Akoto, Director, Crop Services Directorate, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, who represented the Minister of Food and Agriculture, noted that Africa was confronted with three challenges namely, food insecurity within the context of uncertainties, youth unemployment, global warming and climate change. He reiterated the need for researchers and practitioners to propose answers that create a balance between food security and a healthy climatic environment. Mr. Osei-Akoto added that the objective was to ensure that technologies promoted through agriculture and the food systems as a whole help Africa to protect the environment and at the same time, mitigate the impacts of climate change on African agriculture.

Other dignitaries present at the ceremony were, Nana Ekua Edugyanmaa I, Nyifahenmaa, Gomoa Akyempim Traditional Council; Ms. Alexious Butler, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (USAID/RFS); Prof. Alain Sy Traore, Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, Economic Community of West African States; Dr. Godfrey Bahilgwa, Director, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, Addis Ababa.

The conference was enlivened by the presence of the University of Ghana Dance Ensemble who treated guests to displays of traditional dance.