The Global Agriculture Development Director of DuPont Pioneer, Lystra Antoine, has asked food producers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to support effort to combat the threat of food scarcity, brought on by the fast changing global climatic conditions and population explosion, mostly in the developing countries.
She repeated the call for agriculture in developing countries to undergo significant transformation in order to meet the related challenges of achieving food security and responding to climate change.
She said ‘projections based on population growth and food consumption patterns indicate that agriculture production would need to increase by at least 70 percent to meet the needs by 2050.’
Lystra Antoine, who was speaking at a programme promotion of the Ghana Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (GAMSAP) organized by the USAID and DuPont Pioneer, in Kumasi, urged all the stakeholders in the agricultural sector to see this need as a shared responsibility and contribute to ensure food security.
She noted that the demand for maize locally, is so high that it would take quite a while and many more farmers producing at large quantities to satisfy the demand.
Against this understanding, she applauded the gains made so far in the GAMSAP programme while underscoring the need for all the players in the sector to play their part to sustain the success recorded and expand the programme beyond its current stage.
The Ghana Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Programme (GAMSAP), is a US$4 million, four-year partnership of DuPont-Pioneer and the USAID aimed at increasing the productivity and profitability of smallholder maize farmers in Ghana.
The financial and technical assistance from USAID being provided under GAMSAP is in accordance with its Global Development Alliance (GDA), a public-private partnership scheme.
GAMSAP is being implemented nationwide by ACDIVOCA as part of the Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) project.
ADVANCE is a USAID funded agricultural value chain project focusing on maize, rice and soybean. The project follows the first ADVANCE project implemented from 2009 to 2014.
The current phase started exactly a year ago with total funding of over $38million with $2million of the funding coming from DuPont Pioneer specifically to promote the adoption of hybrid maize seed in Ghana.
Chief of Party of the USAID-ADVANCE Project, Dr. Emmanuel Dormon, said maize yields of beneficiary farmers in the three northern regions increased from an average of 1.6mt/ha in 2011 to 2.9mt/ha in 2013 while the national average yield stood at 1.7mt/ha that same year.
He said the average gross margins increased from $313 to $539 per hectare over the same period.
He said the results obtained from the demonstration sites set up under GAMSAP with DuPont Pioneer,lastbyear, were very encouraging, recording average yields of 6mt/ha and some as high as 11mt/ha.
Dr. Dormon said ‘hybrids seeds are generally not cheap but the returns on it more than compensate for the investment made, especially when used in combination with the right types and quantities of fertilizer.’
He said the project strategy is to work closely with the private sector, supporting the input dealers to effectively distribute production inputs to farmers to enable them to improve their yields.
“We also work closely with buyers and processors to purchase the produce after harvest. This strategy will result in strengthening and sustaining a market driven system that will thrive beyond the life of the project,” Dr. Dormon said.
The Ashanti Regional Director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Kweku Minkah Fordwour, expressed appreciation for the introduction of the programme to the Region.
He said the Ashanti Region is well placed to promote the hybrid maize seeds given her vibrant market including the poultry and livestock industries.
While endorsing the high yielding hybrid maize seed, he assured farmers that there is a vast difference between genetically modified organisms (GMOs) crops and hybrid maize seeds, and entreated them to opt for it.
He announced that Government would soon introduce a fertilizer subsidy programme with the level of subsidy likely to be announced by close of the month.
This disclosure comes barely some few weeks after President John Mahama said in his ‘State of the Nation Address,’ in Parliament, that 180,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer would be made available for use of farmers.