Professor Ben Q. Honyenuga, the Vice-Chancellor of the Ho Technical University (HTU), has expressed worry about the current shortages of onions and other vegetables in in Ghana because of the Nigerien political upheaval.
He said this was embarrassing, because Ghana had a comparative advantage to produce these vegetables without relying on others for supplies.
Prof. Honyenuga said the situation had risen because of the coup in Niger and the associated closure of all entry point, including its air space, preventing hundreds of truckloads of onions meant for South of West Africa, stacked in that country and left to rot.
The Vice Chancellor was addressing the Industry-Academia Tech Dialogue (INDAC-TED) and the Second Agritech Symposium and Exhibition on the theme: “Application of Agritech to Improve Food Production.”
It was organised by the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPG), under the auspices of the HTU, DigiCAP Ghana, a partnership of AFOS Foundation.
The strategic objective is to establish research-driven University-Industry partnerships, aimed at promoting research relevant to industry and national interests and in finding solutions to socio-economic challenges.
Prof. Honyenuga said Ghana had large tracts of fertile lands, water and technology, compared to that of other countries, while its universities continued to churn out droves of agricultural scientists, hence it was worrying why such challenges were allowed to befall the nations.
He encouraged the local agriculture sector to leverage science and technology to develop agriculture to feed multitudes.
“Let’s challenge thinking outside of the box and move away from the blame game,” he said and suggested that institutions could keep their own farms to help expand food production to sustainable levels, he said.
Prof. Honyenuga said, for instance, the Ho Municipal Assembly and all others in the country could own farms, the Universities and Senior High Schools and the Regional Coordinating Councils could do same to feed Ghana.
Mr Divine Richard Bosson, the Ho Municipal Chief Executive, called for a reintroduction of the “Operation Feed Yourself,” initiative in the past, where all stakeholders, especially schools, universities, and individuals took advantage of School farms projects and backyard gardens, to produce food for the population and for export, which turned the economy around.
“We can revisit the past and as a farmer myself, cropping over 10 acres of maize and others, I urge all of us to embrace agriculture as the way to go.”
He said the research institutions must continue to develop resilient seeds to stem global warming, climate change scenarios and help develop agricultural policies, to ensure food security and national development.