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Stakeholders urged to advance Ghana's seed sector

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi

The 3rd National Seed Forum has opened in Accra with a call on key stakeholders to work to advance Ghana’s seed sector.

In spite of the fact that Ghana’s seed sector has grown significantly in the last decade, with the development and availability of improved and locally adapted seed varieties, the adoption rate is still marginal, with just about 30 per cent of farmers using improved varieties.

The Chairman of the National Seed Council (NSC), Mr Josiah Wobil, in his welcome address during the opening of the forum on Monday, November 7, 2022, said even though Ghana has made some significant improvement in its seed sector, there is more to be done.

For him, there is the need to facilitate the conduct of the seed industry in order to respond to the overall quality seed demand in the country.

He said the NSC recognises that to comprehensively deliver on the seed sector needs of Ghana’s agriculture, food and nutrition, there is much more to be attended to.

Chairman of the National Seed Council (NSC), Mr Josiah Wobil speaking at the event


He said Ghana is an agriculture country and that the country’s wellbeing and prosperity depends on a buoyant and productive agriculture.

Mr Wobil, in addition observed, “the main support to agriculture is seed without which there can be no agriculture.”

He said right from the beginning of time, “seed has continuously metamorphosed until in recent times it has emerged as a specialised farm input that has created immense wealth and been the catalyst of civilisations and advancements.”

For him, seed is leading the way to our survival in a world that requires more and more to feed a burgeoning population.

The forum

The 3rd National Seed Forum was held on the theme: “Facilitating the seed industry through knowledge, collaboration and strategic planning.”

The forum will provide a platform for industry players to network, be updated on pertinent seed sector issues, strengthen business linkages, and share progress made from the 2nd Seed Business and Networking Forum.

Additionally, the programme will enhance industry players’ knowledge relating to their respective mandates as well as collaborative responsibilities for effective contributions.

The NSC Chair expressed the hope that the 3rd National Seed Forum will help to address the needs of “our hardworking farmers, agro-industry and the consuming public.”

Adoption

Mr Wobil said many farmers are gradually adopting improved seeds in their farming, noting that “the massive use of hybrid seed even by smallholder farmers, a result of the Planting for Food and Jobs, is an indication that we are on the march.”

He also expressed happiness about Ghana’s progress in the areas of Genetically Modified organisms, saying “on the GM front, the recent breakthrough with Bt Cowpea gives us all so much pride that our scientists, long admired for their advances in conventional breeding, are once again delivering for the national good.”

Policy frameworks

The Acting Director of Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr. Eric Bentsil Quaye, in a speech read on his behalf said quality seeds are prerequisite to successful agriculture and constitute a major pathway for the achievement of national food security goals, particularly for countries such as Ghana, where agriculture is the prime mover of the national economy.

He is of the view that there is a great need to ensure the availability and widespread utilisation of quality seeds throughout the country.

“It is important therefore that institutions and structures required to support the implementation of a good seed system is streamlined and properly equipped and managed to ensure that the seed sector plays its required role in the country’s agricultural transformation,” he explained.

For Mr Quaye, Ghana has made a lot of progress in its regulatory framework, citing Part II of the Plants and Fertilizer Act, 2010 (Act 803), the National Seed Policy, Bio-safety Act, 2011 (Act 831) (Regulates GMO process.), National Seed Plan, ECOWAS seed Regulation (C/REG.4/05/2008), Seeds (Certification and Standards) Regulation 2018, as some of the regulatory policies that have been made so far.

He said the various regulatory frameworks will help to regulate and strengthen the Ghanaian seed sector.

“Since the country decided to put the responsibility of seed production and marketing in the hands of the private sector, there has been significant gains made even though weaknesses still persist in the industry,” he observed.

Mr Quaye noted that with the introduction of Planting for Food and Jobs, the demand for certified seeds has tremendously increased and that his office (PPRSD) is intensifying its regulatory activities on seed quality assurance and certification systems to ensure that farmers get value for their money.

He has, therefore, commended donor agencies for the significant roles they have played in the Ghanaian seed sector, mentioning AGRA as one of the donor agencies that has supported several seed improvement programmes in the country.

AGRA’s Support

The Programs Officer at AGRA, Ms Regina Richardson, said “The 3rd National Seed Forum is being held at an opportune moment when the seed sector needs to consolidate the gains made and develop sustainable models to address constraints inhibiting the growth of the sector.”

For her, the event will offer stakeholders the needed platform to share knowledge on the seed sector and how to improve the gains made so far in that regard.

The Programs Officer at AGRA, Ms Regina Richardson

She said AGRA as a key stakeholder in the African agricultural sector will continue to support initiatives that are meant to increase food security on the continent.

She said AGRA has introduced a number of interventions to improve the country’s seed sector, commending all the various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG), The African Seed Access Index (TASAI), at the forum for their contributions towards such drive.