Ghanaian research leader emphasizes need for human capacity, improved communication
African agricultural scientist Dr. RoseEmma Mamaa Entsua-Mensah spoke to a group of BHEARD students about the importance of human capacity building and the need for innovative forms of information dissemination.
A rare visit to the Michigan State University campus by one of Ghana’s leaders in agricultural research attracted a roomful of BHEARD students from Africa as well as a Ghanaian professor from the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics.
RoseEmma Mamaa Entsua-Mensah, deputy director general of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, spoke to the group Aug. 25 about her research on the coastal ecology and waterfalls of Ghana, women in water management and sanitation, as well as science education and policy. A fisheries ecologist, Dr. Entsua-Mensah has done extensive research nationally and internationally on lagoons in Ghana and other countries in West Africa for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Dr. Entsua-Mensah is one of the few African scientists to have participated in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment from 2004-05. She is vice chair of the Christian Health Association of Ghana and served on the fisheries commission in 2007-08. In addition to having several publications and books to her credit, she taught as a part-time associate professor at the University of Cape Coast (2001-09).
“It is quite rare for a graduate student like myself to meet a director of the research organization like Ghana’s CSIR,” said Nana Baah Pepra-Ameyaw, a Ph.D. candidate in Food Science from Accra, Ghana. “it was quite obvious that Dr Enstuah-Mensah is passionate about her work. In fact, she wasn't what I expected at all.
“Her ability to connect and identify with us really surprised me. She took an interest in what each of us was doing in terms of our research and took her time to explain how we could benefit from the resources of the CSIR.”
BHEARD co-director Anne Schneller provided an overview of the program and emphasized the role that Ghanaian students have played in its success thus far.
“Of the 11 countries (nine African, two Asian) that we work with, Ghana has produced the most students (22) thus far and many of them have come to MSU,” Schneller said. Ghanaians in this particular meeting included Pepra-Ameyaw, Clement Kubuga, Mary Adjepong, Ellis Nana-Adjei Adams, Edward Opoku and Felix Kwame Yeboah, an AFRE assistant professor in international development.
Pepra-Ameyaw graduated from the University of Cape Coast with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry before moving on to complete his master’s in food science and technology at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. As a doctoral candidate at MSU, Pepra-Ameyaw hopes to apply basic scientific principles to gain a better understanding of the functionality of food, and ultimately help improve the quality of processed food.
“I am very passionate about science education and I believe that for Africa to develop and make use of the abundant natural resources available to us, it is important to encourage young Africans to understand science and how it affects the world that we live in,” Pepra-Ameyaw said.
According to Dr. Entsua-Mensah, one of the primary research challenges in Africa centers around communication of research by scientists to communities, and the lack of sufficient numbers of extension officers who could share that information. She said international partners collaborating with African institutions often were inadequately informed about the outstanding African work – due largely to communication barriers.
“We desperately need individuals like you to come back home and contribute your research and ideas,” Dr. Entsua-Mensah told the group. “It will be important for you to tailor your agricultural research so that it has a direct community impact. Continue to work hard and I’m confident that you will have a positive effect on policy changes.”
About the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is the foremost national science and technology institution in Ghana. It is mandated to carry out scientific and technological research for national development. The Council was established in its present form in 1968; however, it traces its ancestry to the founding of the National Research Council (NRC) in 1958.
The mandate of the CSIR in broad terms is to pursue the implementation of government policies on scientific research and development. CSIR research programs cover a wide range of activities in the following areas: industry, agriculture, agro-processing, fisheries, forestry, water resources, human settlement infrastructure, environment, health, natural and social sciences.
In pursuit of its mandate, the CSIR engages in activities that lead to the achievement of the following objectives:
• to coordinate research and development in the CSIR and other science and technology institutions nationwide and cooperate in their research efforts;
• to assist government in the formulation of science and technology policies for the realization of its developmental objectives;
• to advise the Ministry of Environment and Science on scientific and technological advances likely to be of importance to national development;
• to encourage – in the national interest – scientific and industrial research of importance for the development of agriculture, health, medicine, environment, industry and other service sectors and to encourage close linkages with the productive sectors of the economy;
• to encourage coordinated employment of scientific research for the management, utilization and conservation of the natural resources of Ghana in the interest of development;
• to develop, package and disseminate science and technology information;
• to commercialize research and development output and technologies in partnership with the private sector and other stakeholders.