The 2018 National Best Agricultural Researcher, Dr. Maxwell Darko Asante, is calling on government to increase funding for research work in the country.
He is worried majority of research activities are donor funded and it is about time government itself did more for research institutions.
“The state should own research more and it will make a lot of difference. The state must put resources directly in research so that they can be demanding output from us. Research work now is challenging because you can only do so much,” Dr. Asante told Joy News after picking up his award.
Dr. Maxwell Darko Asante who is a Rice Breeder and Senior Research Scientist at the Crop Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is one of several persons awarded at the 34th National Farmers’ Day ceremony in Tamale. At the event, James Obeng Boateng was awarded national best farmer as several other farmers were awarded.
The National Best Agricultural Researcher is the only award at Farmers’ Day celebrations dedicated to researchers. A scientist is awarded for scientific innovations he introduced in the course of the year that helped improve agricultural productivity. Dr. Asante was recognized for releasing six new rice varieties that have helped make the work of farmers better.
Dr. Asante is known for being passionate about developing high yielding rice varieties with excellent cooking and sensory qualities. He believes that this will help domestic rice capture a large portion of the Ghanaian market, which is presently dominated by imported products.
“It’s a great feeling. Sometimes, we feel the work of the scientists are not recognized enough in Ghana. So when you are recognized this way, it’s great. It motivates you to work harder. It’s not an easy environment for scientists in Ghana. We have issues with funding and all. But if you are able to put in your all and somebody at least knows, that one is some good motivation,” Dr. Asante told Joy news.
Scientists at the CSIR have repeatedly complained government only pays their salary without providing them with funds for research work.
Dr. Asante says the absence of government funding for research is making their jobs difficult as researchers. “We have to write proposals for funding and pursue donor agencies. If you are not self-motivated, you can’t do the job. You are the same person looking for funding, in the lab, writing reports, you are the same person doing field trials. Then when you come out with the research work, you are the same person promoting it,“ Dr. Asantelamented. He is convinced Ghana will be a better place if research is prioritised.
Dr. Asante holds a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding from the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana, Legon. He is a member of the Ghana Science Association and the current President of the CSIR-Crop Research Institute branch of the Research Staff Association of Ghana.