Stakeholders Discuss Establishment of SFM for Agricultural Research and Extension in Ghana

Stakeholders in the Agricultural sector have begun discussions on the establishment of Sustainable Funding Mechanism (SFM) for agricultural research and extension in Ghana at a consultative meeting at the University of Cape Coast. Over the last few years, most agricultural research, production and extension programmes have been funded through the benevolence of donor agencies like World Bank. Currently, the World Bank is sponsoring one of such agricultural project known as West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP). The first phase of WAAPP started in 2008 and ended in 2012, whilst the second began in 2013, and is expected to end in 2017. In the light of challenges with financing agricultural research and extension, the Projects’ Appraisal Documents (PAD) of WAAPP mandated each participating country to work towards establishing SFM for Agricultural Research and Extension Service delivery, as part of the exit strategy for the project. In view of this, Agricultural-SFM Committee was set-up in June 2016 to develop a road map for the institutionalization of a comprehensive SFM for Ghana’s agricultural research and extension. Giving a brief overview on “Sustainable Funding Mechanism”, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) WAAP Liaison Officer, Prof. P.N.T. Johnson, noted that a number of projects have been implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agricultural which were terminated when the specific projects phased out. He mentioned National Agricultural Research Programme, Rice Sector Support Project, among others as examples of such projects. Prof. Johnson said funding mechanisms must be well designed such that it will guarantee effective and demand-oriented services and provide empowerment to clients and other stakeholders. He said funding mechanisms should also lead to investment of public funds as well as promoting environmentally sustainable land use practices. He further said it should contribute to better livelihood security for the poor and prevent marginalisation of vulnerable groups. On principles for funding of Research and Extension, Prof. Johnson called for the use of funding mechanisms which promote empowerment, link between financial participation and empowerment and the participation of producers or users in financing extension. He explained that the position of development partners on alternative funding of research and extension was to reduce the scope of state financing and improving cost effectiveness. For his part, the Dean of the School of Agriculture, Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako, said for sustainability to work, there should be a conscious effort to farm and consume the produce, stressing that “We should farm what we eat and eat what we farm and add value to what we farm.” He said agricultural business should be backed by strong scientific research. He recommended the setting up of an endowment fund; ceding some percentage of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund and support from industries to help establish SFM for agricultural research and extension in Ghana. A similar zonal stakeholders’ meetings will be held in Kumasi and Tamale to solicit their views. After the meetings, the Agricultural SFM Committee is expected to prepare a consultative document for a final Validation Stakeholders’ Meeting in Accra in June from which a comprehensive proposal for setting up SFM in Ghana can be forwarded for the Government for consideration.