The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has called on the government to increase investment to Ghanaian seed growers and farmers.
PFAG notes that local seed producers and farmers are plagued with numerous constraints ranging from poor resources for a research institution to provide foundation seeds, limited irrigation facilities, poor transportation, storage facilities and difficulty in access to credit to support seed production and distribution.
“The call for introduction of GMOs to salvage the local seed industry is only a strategy by multi-national seed companies and their Ghanaian agents to control seed production and rip the patent right of a single seed purchased by farmers,” PFAG said in a release ahead of the 34th National Farmers Day Celebration on December 7, 2018.
This year’s Farmers Day is themed around the President’s vision of Ghana beyond Aid: “Agriculture, Moving Ghana Beyond Aid.”
PFAG says the theme is appropriate as it is line with Association’s continuous call to use agriculture as the key to unlock the economic potentials of the nation and wean itself from the clutches of donor dependency.
The umbrella body of smallholder farmers in Ghana also notes that “accepting GMOs in Ghana is not only contrary the President’s vision of developing Ghana Beyond Aid but will further worsen the poverty level of smallholder farmers who will have to buy expensive seeds every year, kill our infant seed industry and take the progress chalked in the agriculture sector a step back.”
The government, has over the years, focused on investment in food production with little investment to reduce postharvest losses (PHL), the Association stated.
“We also call on the government to review the fertilizer subsidy programme by reducing the amount of money put in subsidizing chemical fertilizer. The saved money should be used to support organic fertilizer and sustainable agriculture which is economically prudent, environmentally friendly, gender sensitive and climate resilient.
“Apart from cost to the taxpayer, there is evidence of the effect health of using too much chemical fertilizer. There is also environmental implications and economic consequences of over-reliance on importation since the manufacturing companies are outside Ghana,” the Association observed.
PFAG is also urging the organizers of this year’s Farmers’ Day celebration to reflect on the criteria for selecting award winners.
The Association said the prestigious awards are mostly skewed in favour of large-scale farmers, especially at the national level. Smallholder farmers and women, who constitute the majority of farmers in Ghana; providing over 80% of the food and raw materials are always awarded hoes, cutlasses, knapsack sprayers, fertilizer and at best, bicycles and motorcycles, it said.
“Whiles their counterparts (large-scale farmers) who are the minority producing less than 10% of the food are awarded packages such as houses, pickups, tractors, combine harvesters etc. It must be noted that whiles large-scale farming is by choice in developed countries, in Ghana, it by privilege, gender and inheritance.
“For instance, most women have no choice of expanding their farm size due to land tenure system and difficulty accessing credit for being a woman. It would, therefore, be unfair for such a woman who has a passion for agriculture to miss the opportunity of winning a house to a man who is privileged to inherit resources, land and also, has access to credit due to the availability of inherited collateral”.