The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has been tasked to come up with proposals for policy changes regarding its operation to make it self-sufficient.
Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation who made the call said all the Institutes under CSIR were commercially viable and must take steps to commercialize some of their research findings.
Speaking at a staff durbar of the Soil Research Institute (SRI) as part of his familiarization visit to the CSIR, the Minister said the Institutes needed to pay attention to commercially-driven knowledge to sustain their operations.
He admitted that commercialization of some of their activities may contravene the laws governing the institutions but they could make a strong case that could trigger policy change to allow them to generate more revenue.
He said policies emanated from the ground and that until those in the field raised the issues that required attention, the Minister would not be in the position to address them.
Dr Afriyie illustrated how the SRI could train cocoa farmers on the application of fertilizers on their farms, saying that sometimes not the entire farmland required fertilizer but farmers ignorantly applied them at a huge cost.
He said such training would not only generate income for the Institute but also enable farmers to save money.
The Minister said he was aware of technologies being generated by the CSIR-SRI which were expected to impact positively on agriculture and applauded scientists of the Institute for their contributions to one of the key sectors of the economy.
“I am reliably informed that some of these technologies are currently being used for the Planting for Food and Jobs and small-scale farming, also others are at the development stage”, he observed.
He challenged the Institute to work towards becoming the centre of excellence in research, development, and innovations in tropical soil resources for sustainable agriculture, environmental quality, and improved livelihood.
Dr Edward Yeboah, the Acting Director of SRI, said the Institute had over the years developed several technologies including site-specific fertilizer recommendation for maize, cassava, rice and soybean in the transition and the guinea savannah zones of Ghana.
He said SRI through the AfricaRice-CIPA Project had developed an integrated rice-fish farming system to optimize inland valley land use to achieve food and nutrition security while generating high income for farmers.
“The integrated rice-fish culture which is yet to be up-scaled is about five times more profitable than sole cropping of rice”, he stated.
He mentioned low research funding, low human resources due to the embargo on employment, encroachment on the Institute’s land for research, and the impact of COVID-19 as some of the challenges the Institute was facing.