The Ghana Association of Agricultural Economists (GAAE) has stressed the need for a more robust and sustainable food system in the context of imperfect markets, climate change and COVID-19 to ensure food security.
They argued that modernization drive should be more of improving on local technologies rather than wholesale importation of exotic technologies, while innovations and design thinking be made part of the curricula of institutions including the universities.
Dr. Amos Mensah, the Secretary to the Association told the Ghana News Agency that transforming Agriculture through Sustainable Food Systems and Agribusiness needed more intensive engagement of stakeholders; men, women, youth at National, Regional, District and Community levels to help identify appropriate methodologies and strategies to promote the required sustainable food systems.
He said, though government efforts at increasing food production and creating jobs through the “Planting for Food and Jobs” had been laudable, there was the need for a better understanding of the concept of sustainable food systems by policy makers and politicians.
“We need a greater political commitment to the implementation of resilient and sustainable food system methodologies… We, thus, call for urgent steps for emphasis on appropriate sustainable agricultural intensification production practices.”
To ensure sustainability, agricultural innovations should build on farmer-led innovations bearing in mind indigenous knowledge which had been marginalized over the years, he pointed out.
The expert also wandered why in Sub-Saharan Africa, increase in agricultural production had been by land expansion and its adverse effects on the environment rather than innovations.
He said Agricultural production systems should as much as possible avoid the destruction of vegetation to minimize loss of ecosystem services, environmental footprints of agriculture and to enhance planetary health.
He said, “Emphasis should be on low external input for agriculture and the building of biomass on farmlands… we call for the intensification of climate smart agriculture (CSA) and conservation agriculture (CA) practices, most of which are indeed indigenous farming practices”.
Dr Mensah was of the view that steps should be taken to compensate farmers who committed themselves to such practices as most the farmers would , indeed, need financial assistance to implement CSA/CA practices effectively.
He said there was the need to “walk the talk” and focus on practical solutions to Ghanaians and Africans, agriculture and agribusiness challenges and problems.
The Expert said government agencies, donor-funded projects, CSOs and other agriculture-related development agencies needed to work in synergy to avoid duplications, waste of resources and conflicting messages given to farmers and other actors in the agricultural value chains.
“The COVID-19 pandemic had deepened our understanding of the vulnerability of existing food systems to disasters and shocks. There is need for better management of our food systems at all levels to be resilient to shocks and disasters”, he noted.
The Ghana Association of Agricultural Economists (GAAE) is a membership organization of leading scholars and students, policy makers, development workers, development partners, professionals in the agricultural industry and NGOs.
It serves as a catalyst and sought to be a clearing house for research and innovation with the aim of exerting influence on developments in the agricultural sector in Ghana and Africa in particular, and the world as a whole.