Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ghana to establish Horticulture Research Institute under CSIR

Ghana’s horticulture sub-sector should be boosted with the proposed establishment of the Horticulture Research Institute under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Horticulture is a branch of agriculture concerned with the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamentals such as plants used for landscaping.

Pest infestation in Ghana's fresh fruits and vegetables is among challenges of horticulturists in accessing international markets for produce such as pineapples, mangoes, tomatoes melons, egg plants, cassava and sweet potato leaves.

Dr. Abdulai Baba Salifu, Director-General of the CSIR, says the proposed institute is to address challenges in the underserved area of horticulture.

“The horticulture sector in Ghana has a greater potential to fetch us foreign exchange but the bottom-line is that the research input is a little bit low”, he observed. “If we have a research institute which is geared towards addressing challenges in the sector, the attention will be brought to bear to ensure the horticulture industry grow from strength to strength and keep people in jobs”.

CSIR is the largest scientific research organization in Ghana, operating under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

The Council’s 13 research institutes are spread nationwide, with mandates covering specialized areas in agriculture and agro-processing, industry, environment, building and road construction, fisheries, forestry, water resources, the social sciences and some aspects of health.

The proposal for CSIR’s 14th institution has been approved by the Board and expected to be presented to sector minister for cabinet consideration.

Dr. Salifu indicated the new Institute is likely to be situated in the Brong Ahafo region, which is the only region where the CSIR has yet to establish an institute.

The activity of horticulture also needs to be undertaken in a transition zone where the savanna and forest areas overlap, he noted.

Dr. Salifu would not give timelines as to how soon the project will take off but noted the necessary documentation will be presented to the sector Minister for government’s approval.

Meanwhile, the CSIR Director-General is seeking a review of the core science textbooks for students in second cycle institutions, to reflect modern innovations in science and technology.

The CSIR currently has about 500 Research Scientists with varied specialized disciplines and expertise, who all play significant roles in contributing to Ghana’s economic growth and development.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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