The University of Ghana has signed a five year agreement with the USAID/Ghana for improving higher education in agricultural research and innovation. The $2.9 million will support higher education programmes at the School of Agriculture, College of Basic and Applied Sciences and the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement Scholarships for Masters and PhD programmes.
This support is to enable young Ghanaian scientists to obtain world-class training in plant breeding, soil science, crops and agribusiness, as well as economic analysis and modelling in support of Ghana’s economic growth and transformation.
The Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Development, Professor John Gyapong who signed the agreement on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor thanked the USAID for their support. Professor Gyapong stated that the University of Ghana has been embarking on the drive to improve upon research activities to obtain cutting edge research to support teaching and learning. He indicated that the University has set up a Technology and Development Transfer Centre which helps facilitate research innovation and development.
He added that as a research intensive institution, the University is required to facilitate relevant research within an existing environment of academic freedom that would explore the frontiers of knowledge to the benefit of all especially farmers. Professor Gyapong stated that agricultural research is very important to the university and having support for graduate students to pursue that discipline is a laudable idea.
The Pro-Vice Chancellor thanked the USAID for the support in providing training for Ghanaian scientists in Agriculture.
The Acting Mission Director of USAID, Mr. Andrew Karas, on his part said research is the cornerstone for innovation and agricultural growth. He added that the future of agriculture depends on research agenda that is based on home grown programmes, which a partnership with a local university such as the University of Ghana can provide.
He remarked that “future innovations in agricultural research and growth will be led by Ghanaians who are trained right here in Ghana. This requires access to world-class education to accelerate efforts towards achieving food security and prosperity in Africa for years to come”.
Mr. Karas said through the American people, USAID is indeed proud to provide support directly to the University of Ghana and hoped the partnership will yield lasting, sustainable and informed approach to research.
The Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Professor Ebenezer Owusu stated that partnership with external donors is important for the University of Ghana. He gave the assurance that the College will do all it can to make the necessary impact and ensure that the success of the project.
The Dean of the School of Agriculture, Professor John Ofosu-Anim indicated his excitement about the partnership and hoped that the funding will contribute immensely to building human capacity in agriculture for Ghana in line with the School’s vision of contributing to sustainable human development in agriculture.
Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, the Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement was also thrilled at the outcome of a very long process of working to achieve this success. He indicated that Africa needs crop improvement to turn around its yield which if not done by 2050 will pose a difficult situation to food sustainability. He stated that WACCI has trained about 18 PhD students and currently has the largest number of PhD students at the University of Ghana. He mentioned that Ghanaian students struggle to sign on to their programmes due to funding thus this partnership will go a long way to train more local scientists.
Also present at the signing ceremony were the Director of Public Affairs, Mrs Stella A. Amoa, Heads of Departments of the School of Agriculture, Research Development Officers and ORID staff.
The USAID team was made up of Andrew Karas, the Acting Mission Director, Sampson Konlan, Mark Doyle, Brian S. Conklin, Pearl Coleman Ackah, and Jennifer Yost.