By Iddi Yire/Julius K. Satsi, GNA Accra, July 25, GNA
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, has welcomed the promotion of evidence-based approach to policy making, saying the research information would enhance food security and improve the lives of farmers. He said this in a speech, read on his behalf, on Tuesday at the opening of a two-day Evidence to Action conference on Agricultural Development and Food Security hosted by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana The Minister said the conference was laudable because it would improve efficiency and urged ICED to work closely with all the Agricultural Arms of Government across West Africa to ensure that the conference recommendations were implemented in the region. However, policy makers struggled to find, collate, and understand context-specific evidence to support policy action.The sector Minister said with the right level of support and interaction between researchers, evaluation experts and decision-makers, the translation of these research findings into actionable policy and programmatic guidance would be actualised. “In order to turn the continent food security options around, we need to move beyond focusing on increasing productivity at farm level and scale up efforts to proactively implement policy and practice recommendations coming out of research and evaluation projects being undertaken by the various value chain actors.” He said despite the unprecedented decade of impressive growth across the continent, improved governance and improvements in human development indicators of Africa agriculture was still facing major challenges which called urgent attention.We must use research and data to ensure that images of forlorn looking, desperate hungry citizens are no longer part of our evening news,” Dr Afriyie Akoto noted.
“The need for strong evidence to better-inform development professional, policy makers, donor community and private sector investors is greatly needed at the moment.
Dr Afriyie Akoto stated that agriculture made up close to half of Gross Domestic Product on the average taking into consideration the broader agribusiness sector saying, “a stronger agricultural growth can act as a multiplier for economic growth”.
Dr Afriyie Akoto said: “We definitely need to string recommendations on the policy and practice the changes needed to ensure that the West Africa region becomes more food secure.
Thus, there continued to be a gap between the generation and creation of new and solid evidence from agricultural and development systems research efforts as well as the translation of that same evidence into data-informed policy action.
Dr Afriyie Akoto said there was a huge body of research and evaluation work that could be immediately reviewed, translated, contextualised and disseminated to assist policy makers as well development practitioners to effectively transform Africa’s agriculture with the aim of reducing food insecurity in the continent.
The conference, on the theme: “Towards an Evidence Based and Data-Informed Policy, Action and Practice in Africa”, is being organised by the International Centre for Evaluation and Development (ICED) in partnership with the ISSER, Agriculture Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI), the Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Assets and Market Access.
Dr Afriyie Akoto said Africa’s smallholder farmers were counting on researchers and evaluators to create a body of knowledge that would lead to the transformation of Africa’s agriculture and assists farmers to double their income.