A former Breeder at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), Dr. Ibrahim Atokple , has revealed that Ghana is among 44 countries that import genetically modified organism (GMO) foods.
He disclosed that 2.5 billion hectors of GMO has been grown involving 26 counties and out of the 26 countries 19 of them are developing countries and the remaining seven are advance countries.
“ The forty four countries do not grow GMO but they import, I have seen soya beans oil in supermarkets in Tamale which is an indication that we eat it.”
“ The foods might not be labelled GMO but most of the frozen chicken we import from the European Union are fed with GMO feeds from Brazil and United States so we are eating GMO .”
At a media engagement organized by African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in Tamale , Dr. Atokple said the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute has produced Bt-Songotra cowpea crop variety which will help protect farmers , spend less, increase production and ensure food security.
“ so with the farmers we are wasting their time because they should have the variety by now but like you know there are protocols and regulations we need to go through before GMOs can be released into the environment.”
According to him, they have started with the regulations process to ensure that they are given the go ahead to release the Bt-Songotra cowpea crop into the environment and was optimistic that by close of next year, everything will be ready for the release.
The Principal Investigator Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea Project,CSIR-SARI , Dr. Jerry Nboyine, told journalists that the Bt-Songotra cowpea crop variety has been produced to help fight maruca pod borer problems farmers face at their various farmlands.
According to him, maruca pod borer pest causes 80% of yield loss on farmers field and that the pest attacks the cowpea at the flowering stage and the farmer loses all the flowers.
He revealed that farmers are forced to spray between 5-10 insecticide sprays which is very expensive for farmers.
“ the farmer is likely to spend about Gh 400 for the full session also the farmer is exposed to poison with the chemicals used to spray the farm which can lead to pesticides related sicknesses and again after spraying when it rains the chemicals is washed into water bodies and animals and humans get poised using the water.”
He was of the view that the Bt-Songotra cowpea crop variety introduced will help farmers manage the pesticide problem in cowpea and at the same time reduce pesticide sprayed at the various farms to avoid poising.
“ we are trying to help farmers go for sustainable way producing crops when a farmer spends less on cost of production and at the same time is able to overcome most of the problems in the cultivation of the crop.”
FROM Eric Kombat, Tamale