The Future of Agriculture in Ghana

Picture: Dr Kwamina Banson (middle, with black shirt) explains a point to two farmers working at the demonstration fields.

 

Food. It’s the most basic of human needs and two doctors from Ghana, who earned their PhDs while studying in Australia, are working to address the critical issue of food productivity.

Dr Kwamina Banson and Dr Andrew Appiah are revolutionising how technology can address hunger and food nutrition in their home country. In doing so, they’re supporting the world’s goal to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture (United Nations, Sustainable Development Goal 2).

Through their work at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) with the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), the doctors are applying science on several fronts, including to improve plant variability, combat pests and diseases, increase production and safeguard food safety and authenticity.

The work is challenging since many who live in Ghana depend on traditional or linear approaches to farming.

Dr Banson, with his Doctor of Philosophy (Business) from the University of Adelaide, is tackling this through his advanced understanding of a ‘systems-thinking approach’. Applying a holistic perspective, Dr Banson, Head of Technology Transfer at BNARI, is identifying factors and processes that shape and constrain traditional farming systems. He is also developing solutions to enhance productivity and make farming sustainable.

“My interventions attempt to increase genetic variability of plants that are resistant to vector or disease, thereby increasing their value,” Dr Banson says.

On a separate but connected project, Dr Appiah, Plant Virologist at BNARI, is identifying the root causes of decreased food production. The skills on plant disease diagnostics he gained while earning his Doctor of Philosophy (Agricultural Science, major in plant virology) from the University of Tasmania, have been critical to this work.

“I use technology to effectively screen peanuts for resistance and have introduced four resistant varieties to farmers,” says Dr Appiah, who is also screening dozens of variants of cassava and pepper to identify resistant strains.

With Africa’s population projected to hit 1.7 billion people by 2030 (United Nations), investing in innovative technologies and practices, such as those practised by Dr Banson and Dr Appiah, are going a long way in boosting food production and strengthening Ghana’s ability to achieve food security.

The doctors have received considerable support for their catalytic initiatives. The GAEC, for example, has provided them with 200 acres of land as demonstration fields. The land is being used by 200 farmers to grow new high-yielding strains of cocoa and cassava. Another 300 farmers are hiring or using their land as demonstration farms to grow seeds supplied by Dr Banson and Dr Appiah.

Initiatives like these will take the world a long way to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all.

Source: ustraliaawardsafrica.org

Ghana Records an Increased Number of Women in Nuclear Science

“The number of women in the field of Nuclear Science and Technology in Ghana has increased progressively over the past years”.

This was disclosed by Prof. Mary Boadu, Director of the Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute (RAMSRI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), at a ceremony held in Accra by the GAEC Ladies Association to commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD).

Prof. Boadu, who doubles as the President of GAEC Ladies Association disclosed that a total of 243 females have been trained at M.Phil and seven (7) at Ph.D levels, by the graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS), University of Ghana, since its establishment in 2006. The school is one of Africa’s few institutions specialized in the training of Nuclear Scientists.

She also disclosed that GAEC has seen a steady increase in women engagement in various fields of expertise in its laboratories since the establishment of the Commission in 1963 by Act 204.

According to her, the current female staff strength at GAEC stands at approximately 300, which she described as an all-time high since the establishment of the Commission. “Currently, there are more females with Ph.D degrees at post than ever before, and the number is hoped to increase even more in the near future”.

Prof. Boadu expressed confidence that today’s woman is no longer a dependent soul but an independent and self-reliant person in every respect, capable of doing everything under the right conditions. “We therefore want to recognize the importance of our existence as women and motivate ourselves for future development”, she added.

She urged women to forge ahead with renewed determination and enthusiasm to achieve their set goals and objectives in building mother Ghana.

Finally, she called on all women to strive for balance by working together with their male colleagues in all fields of endeavor.

By: Thykingdom Kudesey – Office of Corporate and Public Affairs (OCPA), GAEC

National Nuclear Research Institute, GAEC initiate moves for Intensive Public Education

 

A team from the National Nuclear Research Institute (NNRI), of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), have engaged the Office of Corporate and Public Affairs (OCPA), GAEC, to commence a video documentary series as part of measures to make known their research findings and its impact on society.

The meeting that took place on Wednesday February 27 at the Nuclear Chemistry and Environmental Research Center saw in attendance the Center Managers, Research Scientists, and the NNRI communication team including the Head of the Scientific Information and Technology Transfer Unit (SITTU). Also present was the Deputy Director of the Institute, Dr. JK Gbadago to grace the occasion.

Giving the opening remarks, the chairman of the NNRI communication team, Dr. Bright Sogbey, said the meeting was very important to usher in a new way to reach the public through a high quality videos to help promote the activities of NNRI.

He stressed on the importance of the meeting to help all the Center Managers and Heads of Consultancy groups, carry a single voice in the presentation of the activities of their Centers.

The Deputy Director of NNRI, Dr. JK Gbadago, in a statement assured the gathering that the public sensitization activities being embarked on by the Institute has the full support of the Management Board. “We will ensure that all the videos produced are scrutinized to guarantee that they present the true image of the Institute”, he added. Dr. Gbadago opined that the goal of this public sensitization drive should be in consonance with the overriding objectives set by the Institute. “Identify national needs and provide appropriate solutions linked to our facilities”, he explained.

The Head of Office of Corporate and Public Affairs, Mr. Mark Kwasi Sarfo, hinted that the Commission is now towing a slightly different way of publicizing their activities. “We have in the past focused on mainly talking about our activities without necessarily relating these activities to specific problems of the society and how we can solve them. The new trend now in our video productions is to identify particular problems affecting people’s lives and how we as a Commission or a Center for that matter can solve it”, he said.

Mr. Sarfo expressed gratitude to management of NNRI for this novel idea of having an Institute communication team to work hand-in-hand with the OCPA in publicizing the activities of the Institute and the Commission as a whole.

He also thanked the NNRI communication team for the opportunity.

Office of Corporate and Public Affairs (OCPA)-GAEC

12 Undergo Successful Radiation Protection and Safety Training at GAEC.

A group of officers from Amandi Investment Limited, specialized in Civil and Marine-Engineering solutions have successfully undergone Radiation Protection and Safety Training at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC).

The weeklong programme that was hosted by the Radiation Protection Institute (RPI) of GAEC, sought to equip the twelve on safety, movement control and administrative procedures of radioactive materials and potential health hazards associated with ionizing radiations, among others.

The Manager of the Radiation Protection Training and Consultancy Centre of RPI, Dr. Stephen Inkoom, expressed joy at the success of the programme and disclosed that participants were taken through areas such as, Nuclear Gauges, Types of Radiation Exposures, Radiation Quantities and Units, National and InternationalLegal Frameworks for the Control of Nuclear and Radioactive Materials. These frameworks include the new provisions of the International Basic Safety Standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Ghana (Act 895 of 2015).

According to him, regulatory requirements of the NRA, under NRA Act 895 of 2015 requires that Radiation Protection Officers (RPOs) and Qualified Operators/Personnel operating with radiation sources shall have appropriate training and relevant experiencein Radiation Protection and Safety.

Also, participants were trained in Potential Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation,Basic Principles of Radiation Protection,Importance of Dose Limitation, Personnel Monitoring at the Workplace, Use of Survey Meters and Contamination Monitors, and Emergency Preparedness and Response to Nuclear/Radiological Emergencies.

Dr. Inkoom further explained that the training course  specifically equipped the RPOs and Qualified Operators/Staffof Amandi Investments Limitedwith the requisite knowledge and skills on how to safely utilize Troxler (a Nuclear Moisture Density Gauge) for Quality and Process Control in their Engineering and Construction works.

Dr. Inkoom was confident that his outfit would continue to build the capacity of RPOs and Qualified Operators/Staff for industries in Ghana and across Africa for radiationprotection andsafety.  He urged management of institutions that utilize radiation emitting devices and radioactive sources to consider regular refresher courses for their RPOs in order to be at par with modern trends and technologies in radiationprotection andsafety.

 By: Thykingdom Kudesey, Office of Corporate and Public Affairs (OCPA) – GAEC

Atomic Energy Commission Holds Management Sensitization Workshop on it’s Corporate Strategic Plan (CSP)

The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) as part of its quest to develop personnel capacity and attain organizational set goals has organized a two-day workshop for management.

The main objective was to equip management with modern and effective ways to discharge their duties in order to meet the set targets for the five-years Corporate Strategic Plan (CSP – 2017-2021)

The workshop was attended by Directors of Institute, Centre/Departmental Managers, Sectional Heads and other Senior Management staff.

As part of activities, presentations from some Departments including; Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E), Human Resource, Finance and Corporate Affairs were made.There were focus group discussions on some topical issues from the presentations to chart a single course for the Commission.

Addressing the gathering, the Director General of GAEC, Prof. BJB Nyarko, who spoke passionately, drummed home the need for extra efforts by management to help achieve the commission’s set objectives in the CSP. He said, times have changed and management must learn new ways of discharging their duties in order to achieve results.

Prof. Nyarko advised management to set good targets for their subordinates and ensure strict supervision in order to achieve the set targets.  “Though times are hard with regards to finances, we are also working tirelessly to ensure that the basic facilities needed for these jobs to be done are made available”, he added.

He disclosed that plans are underway to seek a Presidential chatter for the upgrade of the graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS) to a fully-fledged University, which is part of the five year projection.

The Human Resource Manager of GAEC, Mr. Maxwell Nyarko, who spoke in an interview expressed joy at the turn-up and success of the programme.

According to him, the HR Department will ensure that similar workshops are organized for senior and junior staff in order to help them adjust to the changing times. “This will help them understand the need to meet targets and deadlines to help achieve organizational objectives”, he added.

Finally, he urged all GAEC staff to maintain their positive attitude towards work to help move the Commission forward.

By: Thykingdom Kudesey – Office of Corporate and Public Affairs (OCPA) -GAEC