Ghana 26 January 2016 /

Ghana has developed over 30 agricultural technologies since the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) was initiated in 2007.

WAAPP’s development objective is to generate and disseminate improved technologies in the country’s top priority commodities in root and tuber crops, specifically, cassava, yam, sweet potato and cocoyam.

WAAPP Ghana has the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as its implementing agency.

Under the implementation of the first phase of the Programme, researchers at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute in Kumasi – the designated National Centre of Specialization – have developed diverse crop varieties and agricultural technologies.

However, the rate of transfer and adaptation of these technologies remains low along the agricultural value chain, observed Augustine Danquah of WAAPP’s Coordination Unit at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

This is because the project did not develop a comprehensive action plan to scale up technologies and best practices during the implementation of the first phase.

Director of CSIR-CRI, Dr. Stella Ennin, has acknowledged there have been gaps in previous participatory approaches to research.

She says the previous approach placed emphasis on farmers and extension whilst others in the value chain were placed in the background.

Adopting the innovation platform and Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IR4D) approaches, according to Dr. Ennin, is critical in engaging all key players long the agricultural value chain, including processes, traders and marketers.

“Usually we are able to move forward when there are projects in agriculture; what happens in the absence of projects?” she quizzed. “We should be able to incorporate this concept of innovation platforms and IR4D into our agricultural and extension system, so that whether there is a project or not, we’ll be able to move our agriculture forward”.

Innovative platforms give room for interest groups to discuss issues around a particular commodity or cropping system, especially with the view to adopting improved technologies.

Under the second phase of WAAPP, the platforms are being promoted to consolidate the gains by disseminating the develop technologies for widespread adoption.

WAAPP is collaborating with the International Centre for development oriented Research in Agriculture (ICRA) to build capacity of innovative platform facilitators in 15 districts in the country on soft skills to deepen the approach at the local level.

ICRA’s Benjamin Horlali Kofi Atidjah says technical skills must be complemented with soft skills to accelerate the adoption of agricultural technologies.

The second phase of WAAPP will be implemented from 2012-2017 with an amount of $60million to scale-up the generation, dissemination and adoption of improved technologies in the participating countries’ priority agricultural commodity areas.

“What we need to do right now is to move the innovation platforms beyond the community level; we should be able to establish innovation platform at the regional level and the national level for certain commodities… to improve on our food security and also on our exports,” said Dr. Stella Ennin.

The two-phase 10-year programme is funded by the World Bank and involves three countries – Ghana, Mali and Senegal.