Friday, April 15, 2016

Quality Seeds Can Increase Crop Production In Northern Ghana By 40%– NASTAG

Mr. Thomas Havor

The National Coordinator of NASTAG Thomas Havor, has projected that there could be increased crop production in Northern Ghana by 40 percent if research efforts were boosted and focused on the production of quality seeds that are adaptable to different environments and climate change effects.

Accordingly, he stated that the 40 percent projection could also be realised when efforts were made by government and all its stakeholders to make available quality seeds and good application of the requisite agronomic practices coupled with simple innovative technologies.

Mr. Havor made these statements at the 6th Annual Northern Ghana Pre-season Planning and Networking Forum hosted by the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG). Sponsored by Barclays Bank Ghana and AFGRI Ghana (agents of John Deere tractors), this year’s forum was organised by IFDC’s Agriculture Technology Transfer Project and the Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement II (ADVANCE II) project.

Under the theme: “Improving Agriculture Productivity in Northern Ghana – The Role of Quality Seeds”, the Tamale forum served as a platform for actors in the agriculture sector to meet and network with key sector stakeholders promoting new technologies such as higher yielding certified seeds, crop-specific fertilisers, and mechanised equipment among others.

The forum brought together about 900 participants including farmers, commodity buyers, agro-processors, seed producers and companies, agro-input dealers, farm equipment vendors and financial institutions.
According to Mr. Havor, NASTAG had challenged itself as an industry player to lead in the holistic development of the seed sector to a level that would contribute to the transformation of agriculture in the country. “Through the provision of quality seeds, the productivity of the Ghanaian farmer will be enhanced tremendously towards ensuring food security in Ghana”, he stated. 

He appealed to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other relevant authorities to ensure that the necessary policies and regulations were implemented efficiently for the holistic achievement of the goals of NASTAG. “.......obviously the continuous use of farmer-saved seeds and grains can simply not help us attain maximum potential of agricultural production in Ghana”, he maintained. 

A cross section of participants
In a speech read on his behalf, Minister of Food and Agriculture Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna expressed concern over the increase conversion of farmlands in urban areas into residential and commercial buildings, roads and other capital resources, thereby limiting lands available for crop production.

The problem, he said, had been exacerbated by recent changes in climatic conditions accompanied by erratic rainfall patterns and pronounced long droughts, which tend to shorten cropping or farming seasons.

Alhaji Limuna proposed a shift from crop production yield increases based on area expansion, to yield intensification on the same areas under cultivation. “We need to intensify our production systems on the limited and ever-decreasing agricultural lands. Such intensification will require introduction of smart technologies in the form of improved and high yielding seed varieties, mechanisation, irrigation, integrated soil fertility management practices that address our poor soil fertility, and improved post harvest management.”  

The Agric Minister also suggested the adoption of climate smart approaches to farming such as minimum tillage, efficient use of both organic and inorganic sources of plant nutrients, use of drought tolerant and short-maturing varieties, adoption of integrated pest management, and among other techniques.

Fifty-four agriculture related companies exhibited products and services at the trade fair section of the forum, ranging from production and processing, mechanisation, irrigation, improved seed varieties, finance, information and communication technology among others. The event provided participants and exhibitors with the opportunity to establish business linkages while also learning about new developments in the agric sector in Northern Ghana.

Meanwhile, the volume of seeds produced in the 2015 cropping season ready to be used for the 2016 season which begins in May-June, stands at 506.12 metric tonnes of maize, 732.82 metric tonnes of rice and 176.76 metric tonnes of soybeans. This is estimated at a total value of GH¢2,024,460.00, GH¢1,832,300.00 and GH¢707,040.00 for maize, rice and soybean respectively.

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