The Chief of Party for Feed-The-Future Agricultural Technology Transfer Project (ATTP), Michael Dockrey has revealed that USAID-Ghana would support the private sector with a 10 million dollar credit facility to enable them produce large quantities of improved seed for smallholder farmers in Northern Ghana.
According to him, the availability of quality and affordable seeds particularly maize, soya and rice for farmers in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions of Ghana, would go a long way to boost crop production and increased yield within the shortest possible time.
Mr. Dockrey said this at the inauguration of Northern Ghana Seed Platform in Tamale, an initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The platform is expected to ensure the efficient production and constant supply of quality seeds to smallholder farmers in the northern part of the country.
The platform is also expected to ensure cohesion among seed producers, marketers, policy makers and researchers to improve production and supply of quality seeds in the three regions. The initiative would further compel stakeholders in the seed sector to improve upon data collection as well as being able to estimate the amount of foundation and certified seeds required for each farming season.
It is estimated that the three regions would need more than 2,000 metric tonnes of quality certified seeds, especially soya, rice and maize, which are largely cultivated by farmers every years. This is to ensure increased production of crops by 40 percent to improve food security and nutrition in the area.
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National Coordinator of NASTAG Thomas Havor, also 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 negative climatic effects.
He noted 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 ensuring the application of the requisite agronomic practices.
Mr. Havor however admitted that NASTAG as a body was challenged to lead in the holistic development of the seed sector to a level that would contribute to the transformation of agriculture in the country.
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.
The importance of seed to any crop based production system cannot be overemphasized. Improving the quality of seeds of any preferred variety is the basis for agricultural productivity improvement.
About 80 percent smallholder farmers in Ghana mainly get their seeds from informal sources which include farmers own saved seeds, seed exchanges among farmers and purchases from the local grain dealer.
But experts including Chief of Party for Feed the Future Agriculture Policy Support Project (APSP) Dr. Walter Nunez Rodriguez believe the system is not regulated properly.
He maintained that the challenges in the seed sector could only be addressed through a licensing agreement that would protect the breeder and the private sector in the seed production business.