The College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences has celebrated its fifth Anniversary with a lecture and exhibition on the theme “The Role of Science and Technology in National Development”.
Rationale for the Anniversary Celebration
Explaining the rationale behind the anniversary celebration, the Provost of the College, Prof. Livingstone Sam-Amoah, said the programme was to celebrate the success story of CANS since the reorganisation of the University into Colleges five years ago. He said the theme for the celebration was to highlight the role that science plays in the society stressing that “Every facet of our lives is dependent on Science”. He reassured the students that they had made the right choice to study Science and its related programmes in the College.
Africa Must Add Value to Agriculture Products
Speaking on the topic “Paradigm Shift; From Subsistence Agriculture to Renewable Raw Materials, the Role of Science”, Prof. Samuel T. Sackey, from the University of Ghana, indicated that as countries develop, the population working in Agriculture decline. “While more than two-thirds of the population in poor countries work in Agriculture, less than 5% of the population is engaged in agriculture in rich countries,” he reported.
Prof. Sackey said whiles the advanced countries were adding value to agricultural products; most developing countries were still producing and even exporting raw agricultural products. He noted that “Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa and yam in the world, however, the country is not adding enough value to these crops making it difficult to derive the much needed foreign exchange for development”.
On production of food crops, Prof. Sackey stated that there have been losses in the production of some major crops in these countries and mentioned that post-harvest losses is estimated at USD 600 trillion for developing countries.
Prof. Sackey recommended the adoption of technologies for land preparation; improved harvesting techniques for roots and tubers as well as fruits and vegetables. He further called for improvement in the packaging and transportation of roots, tubers, fruits and vegetables technologies for drying of cereals and related crops.
In order to avoid these losses, Prof. Sackey urged the College to take advantage of the deficit in crop production and develop the appropriate technology to address them.
Adopting the Science Agenda
The second speaker for the lecture, Dr. Irene Annor-Frimpong, from the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), said for Africa to meet its evolving agriculture goals, it was important for the continent to fully adopt the Science Agenda for Africa developed by the African Union in 2014. “The Science Agenda refers to the science, technology, extension, innovation, policy and social learning Africa needs to apply in order to meet its evolving agricultural development goals” she explained. She stated that economic growth in Africa has declined after a decade and a half of sustained growth. “This trend undermines the continents aspiration for an economic and social transformation” she observed.
Dr. Annor-Frimpong admitted that Agriculture has great potential that needed to be unlocked and Africa has good arable lands, however, there was the need to shift from the traditional agriculture to Agri-food systems. “Agri-food refers to investing in technology to boost Agriculture Production” she explained.
According to Dr. Annor-Frimpong, “the fourth industrial revolution is Artificial Intelligence” but wondered whether Africa was ready to embrace this technology.
“Africa needs to cause creative disruption to have improved way of doing things, we need to innovate around the problems to solve them” she implored.
Dr. Annor-Frimpong called on African scientists and researchers to work together to proffer solutions to the myriad of problems affecting agriculture production. She also proposed effective deployment of science and technology to address the challenges affecting agriculture production in Africa.
Curriculum Should Respond to the Needs of Industry
Touching on “Curriculum Response by Tertiary Institutions to Opportunities and Challenges in Industry” Prof. J. A. Kwarteng of the School of Agriculture, said the challenge to industry was getting appropriate skilled labour. “There is a disconnect between industry and tertiary institutions and graduates need to be abreast of issues in industry. They need to have skills as problem solvers, system thinkers, innovative, entrepreneurial and lifelong learning” he indicated.
Prof. Kwarteng entreated tertiary institutions to develop curricula that would be responsive to the needs of society since education is vital to development. He also called on scientist to demystify science for the ordinary person to understand “There are a lot of people who see science as a difficult discipline and fail to appreciate it”.
The ceremony was also used to outdoor the newly designed CANS cloth which was officially launched by the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. D. D. Kuupole. An exhibition to showcase research activities of CANS was also held at the Science Quadrangle.