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Group cautions government over seed importation

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women-farmingThe Upper West Regional branch of the Seed Producers Association of Ghana (SEEDPAG) has cautioned government over what it referred to as hasty decisions on the importation of seed.

SEEDPAG said in a statement signed by its Regional Chairman, Naa Bawa Seidu and copied to the GNA in Wa, that those hasty decisions if not checked could in the long run be detrimental to the growth of agriculture.

The Association questioned why government had to import seed from South Africa and Brazil while it struggled every year to dispose off good quality certified seed which could serve the same purpose.

An example, according to the statement, is some Pan 53 maize seed brought from South Africa for block farmers in Upper West during the 2011 cropping season and stored in SEEDPAG warehouse in Wa.

The statement said for some strange reasons, the stock could not be distributed as the season had advanced beyond the planting period, adding that currently, the maize seed numbering 800 mini bags aere occupying space in the ware house.

It stated that the stuff could neither be disposed off nor consumed by even livestock because of the poisonous chemical used in treating it.

SEEDPAG therefore appealed to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to come together and work out modalities to dispose off the seed which according to the Association had no use now.

SEEDPAG appealed to the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) regarding its agricultural policy on the importation of seed for the project and advised that before importing any seed, the relevant stakeholders such as farmers, seed producers, MoFA and the Research Institutions be involved in discussions before taking decisions.

The statement said the SADA block project, though well intentioned, could run into problems if SADA continued to import the hybrid seed that is expensive yet its characteristics are not known to farmers and researchers.

“We are likely to jeopardise the future if care and proper consultations are not exercised. Can SADA tell us why hybrid at this time when the open pollinated varieties from our research could fill the vacuum at less cost?”

The statement also cited the restriction of research institutions to only handle breeder seed as another source of worry, hence, its advocacy for the research institutions to produce the foundation seed for supply and easy access to farmers.

The statement said SEEDPAG was aware that the country had very qualified researchers whose credibility could not be doubted and appealed to Parliament to amend the Plant and Fertilizer Bill to authorize researchers to produce foundation seed to meet the requirements of farmers.

The statement urged policy makers to support SEEDPAG members of good standing to produce hybrid seed.

“We also appeal to government to give SEEDPAG a listening ear for the development of a vibrant Seed Industry in Ghana” the statement said.

It expressed gratitude to the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) for sponsoring the Association through advocacy to get the Plant and Fertilizer Bill passed by Parliament in 2010 (ACT 803) and also sponsoring the Association on the Liberalization of Foundation Seed in Ghana.

Source: GNA

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