Business News of Monday, 25 February 2013
For almost two years now, over 800 mini-bags of maize seed imported from Brazil and meant for planting have been sitting idle at a warehouse at Wa, in the Upper West Regional.
For some strange reason, the stock could not be distributed as the planting season had advanced beyond the planting period; and this, according experts, could be disastrous.
This came to light when the Seed Producers Association of Ghana in the Upper West Region held a press conference on the need for liberalisation of foundation-seed production in Ghana.
The President of SEEDPAG, Upper West Regional branch, Naa Seidu Bawah who read the speech at the press conference, said the 800 mini-bags of seed are still in the warehouse of the Upper West SEEDPAG, occupying space, but cannot be disposed off or consumed by even livestock because it is treated with a chemical that is poisonous.
In this connection, Naa Seidu Bawah called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture together with the Environmental Protection Agency to work out modalities to dispose of the seed which is of no use.
According to the SEEDPAG president, his organisation would like to caution the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) on its agricultural policy regarding the importation of seed for the project.
This is because, according to Naa Seidu Bawa, “Before more seed is imported into Ghana, the relevant stakeholders — farmers, seed producers, MOFA and research institutions — should be involved in discussions before decisions are taken.”
Naa Seidu Bawah said the SADA block/individual project though well-intentioned could run into problems if SADA continues to import hybrid seed, which is very expensive and its characteristics are not known by farmers and researchers.
He wondered why SADA in this time and age is resorting to the use of hybrid seed instead of the open pollinated varieties from local research — which is at a less cost.
Naa Seidu Bawa said another source of worry is the restriction of local research institutions to only breeder seed, and therefore he advocated for research institutions to produce the foundation seed for supply and easy access to farmers, far away from the grains and legumes development which is stationed in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.
He said Ghana abounds in human resources as far as agricultural research is concerned, and there are very qualified researchers whose credibility cannot be doubted.
He called on policymakers and the government in general to support SEEDPAG in producing hybrid seed for distribution and utilisation by Ghanaian farmers.
He said the association through advocacy with the sponsorship of BUSAC, was able to get the plant and fertiliser bill passed by Parliament in 2010 (Act 803).