A Roundtable Policy Workshop on the results of a project―the Integrated Assessment of Determinants of Maize Yield Gaps in sub-Saharan Africa (IMAGINE) ― has taken place in Accra.

The IMAGINE project, which is implemented in Ghana by the Wageningen University and Research (WUR), College of Basic and Applied Sciences, University of Ghana and the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), uses a framework that integrates agronomic and economic approaches to assess the yield gap of maize and to analyze agricultural performance at the plot and farm level.

According to the results of the Project, funded by the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development (DfID), improving performance and closing the yield gap is linked to policy, sensitization of farmers and rural communities on the adoption of practical knowledge and on-farm demos; capacity development at the level of socio-economic and agronomic research, policy-making level and other stakeholders in the supply chain.

The aim of the workshop, therefore, was to share and discuss the results and lessons learned which policy makers and international donors can use to better target their agricultural and food security initiatives.

About 26 participants from the University of Ghana, General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), among others, attended the workshop which was on the theme: Improving food security by reducing the maize yield gap in Ghana.

In a presentation, Dr Roel Jongeneel disclosed that significant maize yield gaps―the difference between potential yield and the yield which farmers actually obtain―had been observed in Low Income Countries (LICs), including Ghana, which suggested possibilities for improving performance by closing the gap.

Prof. Samuel Adjei-Nsiah of the University of Ghana’s Forest and Horticultural Crops Research Centre, Kade, called for the establishment of a National Bank for Farmers to handle the financial aspect of improving performance and closing the yield gap in maize production in Ghana.

Prof. Adjei-Nsiah said the yield gap in maize production could also be closed through technical efficiency which, he said, included the use of extension services; the development of technology for use by farmers; and economic efficiency which involved access to credit and investment in research and development.

Furthermore, he said, farmers also ought to insure their farms against the risks of diseases and pests as well as fire and floods.

In her closing remarks, Dr Martha Awo of ISSER, stressed the need to pay attention to maize production by encouraging the use of manure and fertilizers to improve performance and close the yield gap which, currently, stands at 80 per cent.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)