Ghana hosts West African consultative meeting to transform dryland agriculture


The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), in collaboration with the African Drylands Crop Improvement Network, has organized a three-day West Africa Regional Consultation Conference in Accra.

The conference came at a critical time when the sub-region’s agricultural sector was grappling with the impact of climate change, posing challenges to food security and livelihoods.

Dr. Paswel Marenya, a senior scientist at CIMMYT, explained that the West Africa Regional Consultation Conference on dryland food systems transformation aimed to address longstanding challenges in West Africa’s Dryland Agriculture.

He noted that the transformation of dryland food systems would help address the longstanding challenges of dryland agriculture in West Africa.

He cited key among them as low adoption of modern varieties and poor yields of key dryland cereals such as sorghum and millet, which currently stands at an average of 1 ton per hectare while the global average rests at 4 tons per hectare.

He also hi
ghlighted key issues discussed at the conference, including integrating and leveraging agribusiness, exploring innovative seed delivery models, and designing sustainable seed delivery systems.

The conference also focused on breeding strategies, formulating them for local and broader adaptation, catering to localized and broader markets.

The initiative aims to increase the impact of dryland crops and ensure smallholders have consistent access to quality seeds, thereby enhancing productivity and livelihoods.

Prof. Paul Bosu, Director-General of Ghana’s Council for Scientific Research (CSIR), commended scientists for researching to leverage dryland crops for food security.

He expressed the hope that the conference would make a tremendous impact and not remain just as a project.

He noted that cereals like millet and sorghum were crucial in combating food insecurity domestically.

Dr. Eveline Sawadogo, a specialist in science, technology, and innovation studies from INERA, Burkina Faso, applauded the efforts
for organizing the conference and working towards developing pathways to ensure food security.

She said there was the need to identify key gaps, particularly in the areas of seed production and distribution to local farmers and ensure effective collaboration to guarantee greater yields.

The conference brought together 47 scientists from nine National Agricultural Research Institutes across West Africa, including Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, Chad, and Niger.

The goal was to transform the dryland agricultural sector, delivering sustainable improvements in food security and livelihoods for smallholders and communities across sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: Ghana News Agency

When the Guards Band comes marching in


While the annual military parade for May 6, the Day of Valour and of the Bulgarian Armed Forces, may occasionally be cancelled for some reason, as is the case in 2024, one fixture will be there, just as it is at practically all other military ceremonies and state functions: the Guards Representative Brass Band.

The band traces its beginnings to Bulgaria’s first professional military brass band, composed of 21 Czech musicians hired by the provisional Russian administration immediately after the country’s liberation from Ottoman rule. The Czechs arrived in the old Bulgarian capital Tarnovo on March 31, 1879.

They first played in public on April 17 at the festivities for the signing of the Tarnovo Constitution and the election of Alexander Battenberg as the first Prince of Bulgaria. As another first, the band marched in formation in Tarnovo on April 26. The first bandmaster was Josef Chochola.

That band was initially attached to the 6th Tarnovo Infantry Regiment. It was moved to Sofia on May 19, 1879 as part
of the 1st Sofia Infantry Battalion. By a princely decree, effective January 1, 1893, the band was incorporated into His Royal Highness’s Life Guards Squadron as a Life Guards Band of 65-70 musicians – arguably Bulgaria’s best orchestra at that time.

After the Communist takeover in September 1944, the size of the band was reduced and the musicians were stationed in Breznik (Southwestern Bulgaria). By government decision of February 1, 1951, the orchestra was revived as a Central Brass Band of the Bulgarian People’s Army under the Ministry of National Defence. A Council of Ministers decree dated May 14, 2001 made it part of the National Guards Unit as a Guards Representative Brass Band.

Among its members and leaders, the band lists some of Bulgaria’s most prominent composers and conductors: Josef Chochola, Alois Macak, Maestro Georgi Atanasov (the first Bulgarian to be appointed bandmaster, in 1914), Philip Koutev, Emanuil Manolov, Atanas Ivanov, Diko Iliev, Nikola Tsonev, Zheko Dimov, Nikola Kazasov, Tsveta
n Tsvetkov, Stoyan Stoyanov, Nikolay Bratanov and Diyan Dihanov. The present Chief Conductor of the Bulgarian Armed Forces and Bandmaster of the Guards Representative Brass Band is Lieutenant Colonel Radi Radev (since 2008).

Across-the-Spectrum Repertoire

The Guards Band is a unique first-class ensemble of accomplished professional musicians. Its vast repertoire ranges from military marches to Bulgarian folk music, classics, pop and jazz. ‘In practice, we are the trend setters for all orchestras in Bulgaria. Once we play a piece, our colleagues come to like it and start to perform it themselves.

For example, we were the first in Bulgaria to play orchestrated versions of songs of Whitney Houston, ABBA, Scorpions,’ Colonel Diyan Dihanov (Ret.), the band’s then longest serving chief conductor (16 years), told www.dnesbg.com in 2013. ‘The Guards Band is emblematic for the Bulgarian State, for the Armed Forces and for Bulgarian musical culture. It combines the country’s military and musical traditions. This uni
t is indispensable for any ceremonial and protocol event or ritual,’ Colonel Dihanov commented.

Indeed, the brass band participates in welcoming ceremonies for visiting heads of State and government delegations, the presentation of foreign ambassadors’ credentials, wreath-laying by local and foreign dignitaries, flag raisings, commemorations, state receptions, state funerals, etc.

Memorable International Tours

Along with its ceremonial functions, the Guards Representative Brass Band is active in concert at home and abroad. It has on its record memorable appearances at international military brass band festivals: Music Parade and Berlin Tattoo in Germany, France, Hungary, Israel and Russia. The Band has staged concert tours in Italy, Hungary, France, Israel, Romania and Turkey. In 2010 the military musicians were special guests of the Bulgarian Jewish community in Israel.

It is the first brass band in Bulgaria that recorded its music digitally on CD.

Brigadier General Boyan Stavrev, who commanded the Nati
onal Guards Unit from 2008 to 2016, said in a National Radio interview: ‘While I was commander in the course of eight and a half years, every year the Guards Representative Brass Band took part in music parades in Germany, in Turkey, in Belgium, in the Netherlands. Wherever our band appeared, it received the most applause.’

For his part, Lieutenant Colonel Radi Radev told armymedia.bg: ‘I will never forget our first time in Germany at the Music Parade, in an auditorium seating 9,000. The audience cheered the other bands that had been there on numerous occasions. After our performance, the people first fell silent, then stood up and started stamping their feet as an expression of their greatest respect for the artists. Since 2008, we have invariably ranked first or second there. Our band is very popular at that festival.’

The Guards Band holds numerous State honours and awards from international music competitions. The Union of Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers conferred on it its 2016 Crystal Lyre Prize in th
e Brass Bands category. Jury chair Rositsa Boyadzhieva noted the Guards’ ‘incredibly beautiful sound making, exceptionally mellow playing, a refinement that is difficult to achieve in a brass band, which is a real exploit, considering that brilliant concertizing comes on top of their ceremonial and marching engagements.’

By protocol and military regulations, the massed bands headed by the Guards Band bring up the rear of military parades and march-pasts. But then, this band is in the forefront of the hearts and minds of their huge local and foreign fandom.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Report: CIA chief to meet Netanyahu in hostage deal effort


 The head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plans to make a ‘last-ditch’ effort for a hostage deal when he speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the Times of Israel has reported.

The story comes as Israel announced an evacuation of the southern Gaza city of Rafah in preparation for an expected military operation there.

William Burns ‘is working to find a way to keep hope alive for a deal even as Israel begins to evacuate civilians from parts of Rafah in advance of a likely military operation,’ the report said.

On Sunday, a further round of indirect negotiations on a ceasefire between delegates of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group and mediators from Egypt and Qatar in Cairo ended without any tangible results.

Burns had accompanied the talks. Egypt, Qatar and the United States are acting as mediators in the efforts to end the Gaza war.

Hamas announced on Sunday via its Telegram channel that its delegation had delivered a response to the mediators’ proposals and discu
ssed them with the representatives of Egypt and Qatar.

The delegates left Cairo on Sunday evening to consult with the organization’s leaders in Qatar. Burns had also travelled to Qatar for talks.

On the table is a proposal from the mediators that envisages a multi-stage agreement between Israel and Hamas. This should lead to the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons and an end to the Gaza war.

Source: Ghana News Agency

STMA presents grants to arts and crafts artisans in Sekondi-Takoradi


The Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) has presented sub-grants to selected arts and crafts artisans to spur the growth of the sector in the Metropolis.

The third-party support, second of three financial and logistic aid to identifiable groups, was under the Twin-Cities in Sustainable Partnership Project (TCSPP) being implemented by the STMA and Palermo Municipality in Italy, with funding from the European Union (EU).

The Project requested proposals from arts and crafts artisans earlier this year for a grant to produce innovative artworks inspired by Sekondi-Takoradi for exhibitions at transnational cultural festivals scheduled for Sekondi-Takoradi and Palermo this year.

In all, 66 applications were received, and 54 successfully passed the selection process, of which they would receive a total amount of GHC238,013.

Mr Abdul-Mumin Issah, the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE), speaking at a ceremony to present the grants to the beneficiaries, at Sekondi, said the arts and crafts
sector played an important role in reflecting rich cultural heritage, history, and creativity in any society.

He said despite its significance to the local economy and preservation of culture and traditions, artists in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis faced numerous challenges, such as inadequate governmental support, exploitation by middlemen, inappropriate and restricted working areas, limited adoption of new technologies, and insufficient capital.

He noted that recognising the need for intervention, the STMA through the TCSPP was presenting the grants to the beneficiaries as part of efforts to preserve and promote local artworks, heritage sites, artefacts, and the various cultural celebrations within the Metropolis.

‘To facilitate the disbursement, monitoring and reporting of the beneficiaries’ works, they have been grouped into eight, and they are expected to complete and submit their works before Friday, June 24, 2024, for the first Transnational Cultural Festival scheduled for June 26 to June 30, 2024
, at Sekondi.

‘We envisage that the festival would provide a platform for the artists to showcase their works on the international market and position the arts and crafts sector as a pillar for local economic development,’ the MCE said.

Mr Issah stated that the Assembly was determined to improve upon the economic opportunities for the artists, increase market value and recognition of indigenous arts and crafts, and enhance collaboration between stakeholders to ensure sustainable growth and development of the industry in Sekondi-Takoradi.

He said: ‘As part of the sustainability plan for the sector, the Assembly has decided to revamp the Metro Arts and Crafts Gallery into a modern status to attract artworks from all artists for exhibition and sales.’

The MCE advised the beneficiaries to ensure judicious use of the grants given them, saying ‘The monies given to you are not for irresponsible lifestyles, but to promote your talents of creativity and make a meaningful impact on your lives and the local economy
through the arts.’

Mr Isaac Aidoo, TCSPP Coordinator, reiterated the need for the beneficiaries to ensure they used the monies for the purpose for which they were granted.

Mr Benyameen Sam Keelson, one of the beneficiaries, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, expressed appreciation to the STMA and its partners for the kind gesture, and said it would spur the growth of the arts and crafts sector in the Metropolis.

‘This intervention has come at the right time, and it will motivate us to work hard make the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis a hub of arts and crafts in Ghana and around the world,’ he said.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Committee recommends de-vesting of lands to pre-acquisition owners


A five-member committee entrusted with reviewing the Lands Commission’s Report on Land De-vesting has recommended that all vested lands not occupied by state institutions be returned to their pre-acquisition owners.

The Committee proposed that state entities in occupation and possession of vested lands pay tokens to the pre-vesting owners for continued use of the lands.

The Committee also recommended the formation of a management committee comprised of the Lands Commission, landowners, and users of vested lands to manage the interests of lands with complex acquisition and usage.

The Committee, chaired by Mr Andy Kwame Appiah-Kubi, Member of Parliament for the Asante-Akim North, presented its report to Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, at a brief ceremony in Accra on Monday.

Other Members of the Committee were: Kumbun-Naa Alhaji Naa Abu Iddrisu II, representing the National House of Chiefs, Dr. Wordsworth Odame-Larbi, representing the Ghana Institute of Surveyors, Mr Dennis Ad
jei-Dwomoh, representing the Ghana Bar Association, and Mr Maxwell Adu-Nsafoa, the Technical Director for Lands at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

The Lands Commission, in June 2021, established a twelve-member committee, chaired by Ms Mabel H. Yemidi, the Director of the Public and Vested Lands Management Division of the Lands Commission, to evaluate the status of vested lands, collate the views of the pre-vesting owners, and make recommendations to the President.

Subsequently, Mr Jinapor, in February 2022, set up the Appiah-Kubi Committee to review the Yemidi Committee report, and make recommendations to the Minister on all matters relating to de-vesting, for his review and onward submission to the President.

Mr Appiah-Kubi told journalists after presenting the Report that the committee engaged chiefs and pre-acquisition owners whose lands had been vested in the state.

‘The chiefs were very magnanimous in agreeing to a peppercorn contract on those state properties which require that the sta
te will have to only just pay token for its continuous use of such lands and in effect the chiefs have agreed to grant such lands to the various state institutions that are in occupation and possession of such lands.

‘Beyond that the committee recommends that all other vested lands be de-vested back to the pre-acquisition owners,’ he said.

Mr Appiah Kubi said the committee encountered multiple claims including lands in the Prampram areas and thus could not offer conclusive recommendations on those lands.

‘We have asked the Minister for leave to be able to go back into such situations and manage the multiple claims to be able to resolve the issue of who is the legitimate owner of that land,’ he said.

Mr Jinapor said the issue of vested lands was a matter of concern for traditional authorities and gave an assurance that the issue would be addressed ‘once and for all’ following the presentation of the report.

‘This Report will guide the Government in dealing with the issue of vested lands. I will look at it
and make recommendations to the President.

‘In the not-too-distant future, the long-standing issue of vested lands will be dealt with once and for all,’ the Minister said.

Background

The Stool Lands (Validation of Legislation) Act, 1959, the Stool Lands Act, 1960 (Act 27) and the Administration of Lands Act 1962, (Act 123), empowered the President to vest stool lands in himself and that was extended to the whole country.

Section 7 of Act 123, for example, empowered the President, to, by Executive Instrument, declare any stool land to be vested in the President in trust, if it appeared to the President to be in the public interest.

However, following the passage of the 1992 Constitution, the vesting regime changed. Per article 257(3) and (4) of the Constitution, all northern territories lands, which were vested in the President, were de-vested, and same vested in the appropriate Skins.

Article 267(1) of the Constitution also vested all stool lands ‘in the appropriate stool on behalf of and in trust for t
he subjects of the stool in accordance with customary law and usage.’

Subsequently, the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036) enjoined the Lands Commission, to begin the process of evaluating all existing vested lands with the view to recommending to the President, the de-vesting of those lands within six months of the coming into force of this Act.

Consequently, the Lands Commission, in June 2021, established the Yemidi, Committee to investigate vested lands and make recommendations to the President.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Miner jailed 15 years for robbery


The Asante Bekwai Circuit Court has sentenced a 21-year-old miner to 15 years imprisonment in hard labour for robbery.

Michael Osei denied the offence but was found culpable after trial and sentenced accordingly.

Police Detective Chief Inspector Eric Twum told the Court presided over by Mr Isaac Apeatu that Madam Sandra Adamah, the complainant, was a food vendor, and Osei, now a convict, was a miner and a resident of Abuakwaa near Jacobu in the Ashanti Region.

He said Osei used to visit and patronize the complainant’s food at her eatery.

The complainant and other workers normally spent the night at the eatery, according to the prosecution.

On March 13, 2024, the complainant and her colleagues did not sleep at the shop, thus, the next day at about 0500 hours, the complainant who was returning from town, met Osei and exchanged greetings.

Chief Inspector Twum said later, Osei followed and monitored the complainant – secretly until she entered her room, where he picked a machete, entered the complainant’s r
oom and under the threat of death, ordered her to hand over her phones and other belongings.

The Court heard that the convict succeeded and took the complainant’s Itel cell phone, Samsung Android phone and GHC700.00, all amounting to GHC4,700.00 and bolted.

He said the complainant raised the alarm but to no avail, adding that Osei went into hiding until April 1, 2024, when he was spotted at Kumasi Tafo and was arrested.

Prosecution said Osei was handed over to Jacobu police for investigation.

During the investigation, he admitted the offence and Ied the Police to retrieve the Itel mobile phone from a room at Patase near Jacobu and further led the Police to the crime scene for investigations.

The prosecution told the Court that after a Police investigation, Osei was arraigned.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Civil Servants must uphold national security-Kan-Dapaah


The Minister of National Security, Albert Kan-Dapaah, has advised civil servants to remain loyal to the state and to avoid acts that undermine the country’s national security.

They should be morally upright, transparent, professionally competent, politically neutral and should uphold the constitutional order and national security.

Mr Kan-Dapaah who made the call at the Civil Service Week and 2023 Awards Ceremony in Accra at the weekend.

The event was on the theme ‘Combating Threats to Sub-Regional Peace and Security: Perspectives of the Civil Service.’ 

Mr Kan-Dapaah said that the delivery of public goods and services by the government, such as peace and stability, development, and decent living conditions, rests on an effective and efficient civil service.

He said that the civil service should function as the government’s ‘engine and powerhouse’ in meeting citizen expectations by preserving the public purse, promoting transparency, and ensuring equitable distribution of resources and investments.

The M
inister noted that protecting Ghana from a wide range of internal and external challenges required stakeholders, especially the civil service, to play key roles in ensuring peace and stability in the West African sub-region.

He said civil servants must be wary of partisan pressures that could lead them to act in ways that undermine the country’s peace and progress, adding that a minor act of indiscretion could impact health, food, environment, energy, and community security.

‘Acts such as leaking sensitive documents, collaborating with internal and external agents, having partisan agenda and parochial interest diminish the confidence of the public.

‘Civil servants must ensure value for money and help address development gaps,’ he said.

Dr Evans Aggrey-Darkoh, Head of Civil Service, said the Civil Service was committed to enhancing the capacity of the workforce to advance the country’s socio-economic development,

‘The economic revival of this nation and the reforms that we seek hinge significantly upon th
e efficiency of the Civil Service.

‘We strive to immune the Civil Service with greater productivity, resourcefulness, results oriented approach and sense of accountability to foster good democratic governance,’ he said. 

Mr Aggrey-Darkoh explained that the purpose of Civil Service Week was to engage the public in policymaking, raise awareness of the Services’ activities in the private sector, explore areas of collaboration and partnership, and reward diligent staff.

Civil servants, including Chief Directors, Directors, professionals, and sub-professional groups from Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), received awards.

Dr Yaw Osei, Chief Director of the Works and Housing Ministry, was named the third best performing chief director in 2023, followed by Madam Wilhelmina Asamoah of the Energy Ministry and Mr Kizito Ballans of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations as the overall best performing chief director.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Man in court for allegedly swindling a trader of GHC120,000


Habib Munkaila, a 33-year-old man, has appeared before an Accra Circuit Court for defrauding a trader of GHC120,000.

Munkaila is alleged to have collected the money under the pretext of changing it into 6,855,000 CFA Francs but failed.

Charged with defrauding by false pretences and dealing in foreign exchange without license, Munkaila has pleaded not guilty.

The court presided over by Mr Samuel Bright Acquah has admitted the accused person to bail in the sum of GHC100,000 with three sureties.

The matter has been adjourned to May 7, 2024.

Inspector Shiela Tetteh, who held brief, narrated that the complainant Cecilia Ahemah is a trader who ply her trade between Accra and Lome.

Prosecution said Munkaila was a foreign exchange dealer who operated on the ‘black market ‘at Tudu.

The prosecutor told the court that in September 2023, the complainant needed CFA Francs to purchase goods from Lome in Togo.

According to prosecution, the complainant contacted the accused person who assured her that he could change
the money for her.

Prosecution said the complainant gave Munkaila an amount of GHc120,000, equivalent to 6,855,000 CFA Francs.

After a week, the prosecution said the complainant went to the accused person to collect the money so she could travel to Lome to purchase her goods.

Prosecution said the accused person told the complainant to proceed to Lome and that he had transferred the money to one Mohammed in Lome to be given to her.

On reaching Lome, the complainant met Mohammed who told her that he has not received any money from Munkaila.

Prosecution said the complainant returned to Accra and Munkaila informed her that there was shortage of CFA Francs on the market, and that he had given the money to one of his clients to get the CFA Francs within one week.

The court heard that the accused person failed to give the complainant the money as promised and kept postponing the delivery date.

Prosecution said the complainant after waiting for six weeks, reported the matter to the Police and the accused perso
n was arrested.

The court was told that the accused person during investigation stated that he had invested the money into a business but declined to disclose the said business to the Police.

Prosecution said the accused person refunded GHC30,000 to the Police which had since been released to the complainant.

The prosecution said during police investigations, it became known that the accused person did not have a license to trade in Foreign Exchange.

Source: Ghana News Agency