As Africans mark the Day of Scientific Renaissance of Africa (DSRA) today, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, has said science and technology is vital for national development.
He said the nation, therefore, needed to recommit to the application of science and technology for it socio-economic development.
June 30 every year is celebrated as the Day of Scientific Renaissance of Africa in accordance with the African Union resolution passed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 1987.
The day is being celebrated across Africa in remembrance of the continent’s great contribution to the rise and development of modern science and technology.
Scientific renaissance literally means re-awakening of science. The local theme for the celebration of the 2020 DSRA is: “Rethinking Food Security and Nutrition in the Midst of Covid-19 Pandemic”.
In a message to mark the day, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said, it was very instructive that this year’s celebration is focusing on food security and nutrition in “these irregular times”.
He recounted that Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment (POU) despite its vast land resources, explaining that “food security exists, when all the people, at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, which meets their dietary needs”.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng said Ghana could lose up to 30 per cent of its 2019 production due to the adverse effects of COVID -19.
This, he said, could aggravate the already challenging effects of climate change and its associated effects, leading to shortfalls in the production of the major food crops and significantly affect food and nutrition security in the country.
He said Government has, therefore, put in a lot of measures to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition.
“It is against this background, that the Ministry of Environment Science Technology and Innovation through its agencies has outlined measures to assess and strengthen existing nutrition emergency responses, risk assessments, and early warning surveillance systems to ensure a coordinated multi-sectoral approach to minimise the shock during and after the pandemic.
“These measures borders on promoting local food production and consumption, creating food and nutrition database for better emergency preparedness planning, supporting local industries with technical skills and technologies to process diverse nutritious food products and provide evidence-based guidelines for food consumption.”
Prof Frimpong-Boateng said the Ministry places greater emphasis on food sovereignty, self-reliance, exploring diversification of crop production activities and the scaling up of underutilised crop species that were healthy and culturally accepted.
Consciously, the belief is that critical measures need to be taken immediately to protect and promote good nutrition to buttress government efforts in the health sector, he said.
That was why the sector Ministry has over the years, been supporting the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in playing a leading role in adding value to food crops to produce instant fufu powders like plantain fufu, yam fufu and cocoyam fufu.
There was also the High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) for kokonte, agblema, fortified gari, bakery and pastry products; Industrial Cassava Flour for the paper and textile industries and maize, rice, soyabeans, and groundnuts for weaning foods among others.
He also mentioned other innovations like the technologies on pre-cooked yam chips and chunks as convenience foods, fruit cocktail drinks and juices of pineapple, orange, mango, pawpaw, lemon grass, hibiscus calyx, noni, cashew, tiger nuts and others that had been developed by CSIR.
“Again, rice parboiling technology has been developed and transferred to women and the youth in rice growing areas in northern Ghana. The Chokor, Urismo and Ahotor ovens for fish smoking are among the several technologies developed for processing fish in Ghana by the Institute.”