A Ghanaian chief, Nana Adjei Panin II of Deduako, near Kuntenase in the Bosomtwe District has called for the commercialization of genetically modified organism (GMO) seeds in the country.
According to the chief, GMOs would be a panacea to the existing negative agricultural practices around the globe.
His assertions are based on the fact that chemical usage is having a grave toll on the environment, human health, and soil nutrients.
The chief who is also a peasant farmer said this when some members of the Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) visited his five (5) acre conventional farm at Deduako, a farming community in the Ashanti region of Ghana. He plants a variety of crops including yam, plantain, cocoyam, cassava and cocoa.
Despite the controversy around GMOs in the country, he said this appropriate technology should be adopted with no shred of doubt since it can stand the time of the test.
To him, genetic engineering offers a dramatic step forward to a more friendly way of saving the environment from complete destruction.
The chief observed that pesticides and insecticide usage has caused the soil to lose its rich minerals content and its fertility.
He says these chemicals have had an adverse effect on nature, arguing that previously, after ploughing and fallowing, mushrooms, snails, cocoyam and other crops sprung up from the soil naturally but that is not the case today because of abuse of chemicals.
Studies conducted in 2018 show that on the average, GM technology has reduced chemical pesticide use on farms by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farm profits by 68%.
The chief urged Ghanaians to learn to adapt to change and support this technology to thrive. The chief implored the government to liaise with the appropriate stakeholders to work towards the introduction of GMOs into the country without any delays.
Ghana’s parliament passed the National Biosafety Act in 2011 to guide the management of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the country. The law established the National Biosafety Authority to manage the introduction, transportation, import, export, and handling of GMOs in Ghana. So far, no GM crop has been commercialized in the country.
Currently, trials are ongoing to allow for the introduction of local produced GM cowpea and rice. A study published last year by scientists at the University of Ghana and other institutions predicted the nation’s cowpea sector will grow by nearly 10 percent annually over the next six years if GM cowpea was introduced. The study forecasts the new insect-resistant cowpea will add US$52million (GH₵230m) to the cowpea production economy by 2025.