A former Deputy Agriculture Minister wants Ghanaians to embrace the passage of the Plant Breeders’ Bill to help make the country more competitive in the seed industry.
Dr Ahmed Alhassan Yakubu believes this will encourage more private investments in the seed sector for the benefit of farmers and the nation as a whole.
“We need to work on our science consciousness, we’re not a science conscious nation…if we let our suspicious surpass our beliefs in science then we have lost the fight against hunger and poverty,” he stated.
Dr Alhassan was speaking in an interview on the sidelines of a national workshop on Ghana’s Plant Breeders (Plant Variety Protection) Bill, organised by The Registrar General’s Department in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Accra.
The workshop registered over 30 actors selected from key institutions including Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Food Sovereignty Ghana, Peasant Farmers Association, Alliance for Science Ghana, Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness, University of Ghana, Farmers, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute, General Agricultural Workers Union, National Seed Traders Association of Ghana and University of Cape Coast.
Dr. Alhassan explained that the bill will help ensure more investments in the seed industry and ensure availability of good seeds.
“What it seeks to do is to give the scientists who develop the seeds to be paid some royalties to enable the scientists and the organization developing the seeds to continue doing it” he added.
Former Director of the Crop Research Institute and Coordinator of the workshop Prof. Hans Adu-Dapaah added that Breeding takes a long time and a lot of resources to develop new varieties and the efforts of the breeders have to be recognised and rewarded.
“This will encourage the development of more improved varieties tolerant to diseases, pests, heat, drought for use by farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change,” he added.
He indicated that approval processes for the bill was suspended to allow for further consultation following objections by some groups; Food Sovereignty Ghana and Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana.
On his part, Tawia Evans, the General Secretary for Food Sovereignty Ghana, said, “we want to have access to the newly amended document which will be sent to cabinet, we want to read the whole document and be sure of what is in it but we are in support of the Plant Breeders Bill.”
Samuel Nii Quarcoo, a farmer and Board Chairman of Ghana Green Label Foundation, admonished farmers to embrace the Plant Breeders Bill.
“The Bill promises to bring great solutions to farmers with diversity, availability and affordability of quality certified seeds” he added.
Anthony S.K Morrison, a farmer and CEO of Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness said if Ghana wants to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, which is ending extreme poverty and hunger then the passage of the Plant Breeders Bill is the way to go.
“The growth and expansion of the plant breeding profession provides an opportunity to deal with some of these big challenges faced by African countries to increase domestic supply,” he added.
“The bill will help ensure more investments in the seed industry and ensure availability of good seeds. It must be passed as soon as possible,” he said.