Lack of knowledge stifling biotech acceptance -seed companies

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Chief Executive Officer for M & B Seeds and Agricultural Services says lack of knowledge is stifling the acceptance of biotechnology in Ghana and even across Africa.

Mr. Ben Kemetse argued that the government is responsible for providing the technology to ensure the seed companies in Ghana create wealth and substantial contribution to the country’s GDP.

“The low-yielding and often disease-ridden crop variety makes it impossible for poor and smallholder farmers to improve their yields or the nutritional quality of their crops,” he said.

Speaking in an interview, he said there are a number of recent developments that may have a considerable influence on Ghana’s ability to provide commercial seed for its major field crops.

“The developments include the enactment of a new seed law, the development of new regulations for implementing the law and new national agricultural policy” are issues government must really take a look at, they revealed.

Mr. Kemetse argued that government must leverage on new agriculture technologies to unlock potentials in the agriculture value chain in the country to stimulate economic growth and job creation.

Seed producers believe Ghana’s seed industry when given the requisite attention by the government could generate lots of foreign income, create more jobs for the youths and ensure economically vibrant societies to speed up Ghana’s quest to end hunger.

Chief Executive of Legacy Crop Improvement Centre (LCIC), Mr. Amos Rutherford Azinu, advised farmers to adopt new agricultural technologies to counter the adverse effects of climatic conditions.

“The days for OPVs are over and so investments must now be put in hybrids as a transition to the GM technology, the seed sector must go back to the drawing boards and strike internal private partnerships” he added.

He said maize and cowpea are susceptible to new technologies and has proved to tolerate and resist climate change and other crop diseases. “Give the GM technology a chance.”

“There is no doubt that good policies are one of the most important inputs in agricultural production in Ghana apart from labour” he understood.

Manager for Limagrain Field Seeds urged the government to pass new laws that will strengthen the local seed industry and make improved seeds more available to farmers.

Mr. Gerard Lespourci West and Central Africa Manager added that the government must pass the Plant Breeders’ Bill; it will make the country more competitive in the seed industry and ensure food security.

“Developers of the seeds need some royalties to enable them to continue producing seeds; we need different seed varieties for our farmers to have an optimum choice” he added.

“Members of the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG) are firmly behind the development of new GM technologies that are safe and relevant to seed sector in our country” President of NASTAG Mr. Thomas Havor said.

He added that Ghana has to be on the lookout for the fortunes of the technology given that Nigeria recently became the first country in the world to approve commercialization of bt cowpea.

“This approval in Nigeria will have a major impact on our land, and the sector must work hand in hand with government to ensure we’re not left out of the technology” he added.

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