Former President John Agyekum Kufuor, Friday, called for a determined application of science and technology in developing countries to help attract the youth into agriculture and boost food production.
“It is science and technology, which in many cases hold the key to the progress we want to see. We need to do more to build academic collaborations and to focus minds on Africa’s distinctive agricultural challenges.
“There must, too, be better use of information technology as well, to spread best practice,” Former President Kufuor said in his Laureate Address at a luncheon to celebrate his winning of the 2011 ‘Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture’ at the Marriot Hotel, USA.
His co-winner, Former President Luis Incacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, had delivered his ‘Laureate Address’ at a Breakfast meeting earlier in the morning. Each was presented with the ‘Laureate Diploma’ and a cheque for $125,000 award money after their speeches.
The duo had each been presented with a brass sculptor representing ‘seed in the earth’ at an awards ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol on Thursday.
Former President Kufuor said because “farming in many parts of the developing world is exhausting, back-breaking, unreformed, dawn to dusk effort with little reward, it holds little attraction to the better educated younger generation.
“We have to do more to involve the younger generation agriculture. Policy must ensure this by making rural areas livable. We need their energy and openness to new ideas.
“By providing local schools, electrification, good roads and health care; by increasing the rewards of farming, we are keeping more young people on the land.”
To achieve this, former President Kufuor said there is need for political will and leadership at every level to confront the challenges in agriculture.
“The machinery of government has to be harnessed to deliver the changes you want to see. It needs governments to put social justice at the heart of their plans but also to have awareness of the opportunities that the market brings.”
Alluding to his presidency, he said: “this is the priority my government agreed on – to put transforming agriculture at the heart of our ambitions to transform our country. Ghana – seven years ahead of schedule – became the first sub-Saharan African country to meet its Millennium Development Goal target of halving poverty and reducing hunger in Ghana.
“It was a truly integrated approach with central government setting the framework and providing support, but working with partners across the country. The results were remarkable,” he said.
By 2008, national reserves had quadrupled, GDP was growing at 8.4% and Ghana had been declared a middle-income country.
“Underpinning this was a pursuit of good governance, respect for human rights, abolition of laws inhibiting free speech and freedom of association among others. Ghana is also now widely seen as a beacon of democracy and stability within Africa where human rights and the rule of law are respected.”
Former President Kufuor condemned the practice of ‘land grabbing’ by foreign investors who took lands and used them for purposes which did not benefit the local partners and called for a beneficial partnership between investors and all stakeholders to ensure a win-win for all.
Office of former President JA Kufuor