Prof. Marian D. Quain (left), Deputy Director-General, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, discussing a point with Daily Graphic’s Augustina Tawiah
Prof. Marian D. Quain (left), Deputy Director-General, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, discussing a point with Daily Graphic’s Augustina Tawiah

Scientist advocates investment in local seed production

A chief research scientist has said the country must stop the importation of seeds and rather invest in local seed production to make Ghana self-sufficient in food production.

The Deputy Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Prof. Marian D. Quain, who said this, explained that this would enable the country to attain food sufficiency and take it to the next level.

“We’ve been importing seeds of maize, seeds of tomatoes and all that we grow, especially hybrid seeds.

But if we stop the importation and invest in the production of seeds locally, it will help us,” she said.

“If you go to the crop research institutes, they’ve developed crop varieties that are at the research level.

We call it breeder seed.

Breeder seed is the topmost of the seeds.

After breeder seed, you can give it to private hands for foundation seed and then certified seed.

We want hybrid seed; they’ve generated some.”

“We don’t have money as a research organisation to mass propagate or to multiply and get a lot of the seeds to go across the country to plant everywhere,” she added.

Prof. Quain, who was speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said the country was not paying much attention to agriculture, crops and crop varieties, adding that if the country did that, it could move away from seeds importation, have enough food for citizens, and enough to export to generate foreign exchange.

Hybrid crops

She said the Crop Research Institute of the council had developed a hybrid tomato which performed well and even better than the much spoken-about Burkina tomato, but due to the lack of funds, the breeder had not been able to produce enough varieties for the whole country.

Prof. Quain, a renowned biotechnologist with expertise in tissue culture, said although the breeder had gone back to the drawing table to ensure that she generated a hybrid that would do well in various parts of the country, there were no funds to support her to have mass production.

“Where is the funding to support such a breeder? If you take maize, they’ve generated hybrid maize, but the funding to produce enough seed for dissemination is what is lacking.

If you take crops like yam, plantain, cassava, cocoyam, we are the custodians of these crops.

How much money have we dedicated to the research of these crops?” she asked.

Food security threat

Describing the country’s inability to dedicate funds for scientific research as a food security threat, Prof. Quain, who had played key roles in the development and release of over 30 crop varieties, called for the setting up of funds towards quality seed production, explaining that this would ensure that the seeds planted in the country were not diseased so as to spread diseases, but clean seeds that would ensure quality yields.

She also called for the setting up of a national research fund dedicated to research and resourcing the national agricultural research organisations.

“As a nation, we are not dedicating funds towards research.

We have to get dedicated funds, get CSIR at a roundtable to identify research problems, and have dedicated funds to conduct those research because when we deal with development partners, they have their own scope which may not be what we actually need as a nation,” she advised.

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