The Research Scientists Association (RSA) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has held its 2nd biennial Public Lecture with a focus on Nuclear Technologies in Accra.

The Public Lecture was on the theme “Nuclear Science: Enabling Technologies for sustainable development” and it forms part of the three-day programme of activities outlined for the RSA Week 2021 celebration to showcase the value of nuclear technologies to Ghana’s socio-economic development.

Although some of these technologies are applied in the fields of medicine, industry, agriculture and electricity production, among others, the public lecture focused on the use of nuclear technologies in food and agriculture, and water resource management.

Cross section of RSA members at the 2nd biennial Public Lecture

Speaking on the topic “Nuclear Science in Water Resource Management, Isotope Hydrology: A Game-Changer,” the Manager of Water Resources Centre at the National Nuclear Research Institute of GAEC, Dr. Samuel Yao Ganyaglo, stressed the need for effective management of Ghana’s freshwater sources. This, he said, would help achieve the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which is, universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.

Dr. Ganyaglo who is also a Principal Research Scientist at GAEC, indicated that over the years activities associated with industrialization and urbanization, such as indiscriminate waste disposal, improper agricultural practices, and unregulated mining activities have compromised the quality of surface and groundwater in Ghana.

He hinted that isotope hydrology is one of the many nuclear technologies that have and continue to complement other conventional techniques to provide answers to water resource management.

“Depending on the geology of an area, isotope hydrology is used to trace the source of groundwater salinity, to determine the origin of geothermal waters, and to trace the efficacy of artificial recharge” he explained.

The Manager of Water Resource Centre stated that isotope hydrology technology has been deployed to some parts of the country such as the Akyem Achiase basin to determine the origin of salinity in the groundwater. “In providing a solution for the community, we mapped out freshwater zones in the area to increase accessibility to fresh water,” he added.

He concluded that isotope has proven to be an effective tool for understanding hydrological and hydrogeological systems for better management of water resources. “It is also cost effective and we look forward to partnering our stakeholders in the application of isotope technology to support the sustainable management of water resources in Ghana,” Dr. Ganyaglo added.

A Research Scientist and country coordinator of the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS), Dr. Daniel Osei Ofosu who spoke on the topic “Effect of Gamma Irradiation and Packaging of Fruits Ripening Characteristics of two distinct types of Plantain (Musa sp. AAB),” said the other application of nuclear technology that can help improve food safety and extend shelf life is the food irradiation technology.

The technology, he said, reduces or eliminates microorganisms and insects when foods are exposed to an optimum amount of Gamma Radiation. “This prevents spoilage without leaving any residue of radiation in the food,” he added.

“Irradiation is increasingly becoming an important application in the food supply industry. By international standards, food items such as spices must be irradiated before it is exported. At GAEC, we have a gamma irradiation facility which is used to sterilize foods, pharmaceuticals, and health care products,” he stated.

Dr. Ofosu explained that it is required that plantains are exported at their green stage but unfortunately some plantain farmers in Ghana are not able to prevent the ripening of their food produce.

He, however, revealed that research conducted at the gamma irradiation facility shows that the irradiation technique can be used to preserve the green stage of plantain.

In his Welcome Address, the President of the RSA-GAEC, Dr. Adolf Kofi Awua, urged scientists to step out of their labs and engage the public with their nuclear research activities that have generated solutions for their everyday lives. This he said is in keeping with the RSA’s slogan of “Inspiring science, impacting lives”

“The public engagement will provide opportunities for mutual learning between scientists and the public which will lead to solution-driven research when the scientists go back to their labs”, he added.

On his part, the Chairman for the occasion, Dr. Michael Yao Osae, noted that research scientists were the driving force of the Commission because the application of their research activities impacts the lives of individuals in society.

Dr. Osae who is also the Director of the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of GAEC stressed that the efforts of Ghana to achieve the SDGs must be backed by nuclear science and technology. “If we want to cut down on carbon, if we want to achieve sustainable food production, if Ghana wants to leap into industrialization, nuclear science and technology must be embraced and applied in every area of the society” he added. He also emphasized that Nuclear technologies are applicable in all sectors of Ghana and hope to see the day that the GAEC will have desks in most of the Ministries to increase the impact of nuclear technologies in Ghana.


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