Agricultural modernization is an important foundation of every nation if food production is to be increased and food security ensured. However, Ghana’s agriculture is characterized by low crop yields due to poor soil management and inappropriate land use systems leading to soil degradation. Fertilizer nutrient application in Ghana is approximately 20 kg per hectare (MoFA, 2018) while depletion rates is about 50 kg of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) per hectare per year. This is among the highest in Africa. In order to address this, Agriculture in Ghana has to be modernized to provide a solid and important foundation to the economy. It is fundamental to change and improve the lives of poor, small and medium scale farmers who constitute majority of crop/animal growers in the country.
It is in this light that, the Government of Canada, through the Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) Program, financially supported the development of a web-based platform to facilitate government’s initiative towards achieving the transformation and modernization agenda of the country’s agricultural sector. MAG has an ultimate goal of developing a modern, equitable and sustainable agricultural sector that contributes to food security and improved nutrition. One of the intermediate outcomes is increased adoption of relevant production-enhancing technologies by farmers and, increased adoption of market-oriented approaches to farm management, by farmers and other agriculture investors.
Production-enhancing technologies are to be developed and made available by the CSIR through its relevant Institutions. It is by this light CSIR-SRI was therefore tasked to transform all analogue soil information in Ghana into digitized format and to come out with an Interactive Soil Web-Based Application Platform. Currently, soil information/soil data acquisition and sourcing of soil resources information remotely have been and continue to be challenging, militating against information/data sharing relative to soil resources of Ghana. This is a sustainable decision support system to modernize soil resources management for increased agricultural productivity, reduced poverty and ensured food security. This will contribute to the realization of MAG objectives, outcomes and long term impacts; ultimately ensuring food security and facilitating the production of agricultural raw materials for industry and agricultural commodities for export.
On 30th March,2021, CSIR-SRI achieved the task by launching a soil web-based platform which was held at CSIR Head Office to the public. Present were Deputy Director – General Prof. Paul P. Bosu, Former Director of CSIR-SRI Prof. Mohammed M. Buri and some key stakeholders from MoFA, MAG and the media. The platform host information soil resources of Ghana online to enhance soil data accessibility, availability and acquisition in the country. The online platform contains digitized soil maps of specific locations, soil characteristics and appropriate nutrient/mineral requirement for key crops in each agro-ecological zones of Ghana. It also shows information on soil nutrient availability, soil physical properties and fertility limitations, as well as soil suitability for selected crops can be accessed. Soil management recommendations, strategies and limitations, etc. are brought to the door step of farmers (small, medium and large scale), frontline field staff of MoFA, departments of Agriculture in all District/Municipal/Metropolitan Assemblies across the country and other stakeholders through the internet. Information on selection of suitable soil physical and chemical characteristic for cultivation of crops can be found by the click of the button. Estimation of fertilizer requirement for a given area/crop could be known in advance before project implementation. Agricultural investors could have better information and input for drawing business plans.
Link to the soil-webase platform: https://www.csirsoilinfo.org/
Source: Kwame Adjei Twum.