A member of parliament’s Agric Committee has said the controversial Plant Breeder’s Bill currently before the house is necessary if Ghana will be able to transform its agricultural economy.
Kwasi Etu-Bonde said the bill is crucial for economic growth, noting Ghana is currently losing a lot of money to other countries because of the absence of the legislation.
He cited maize and palm oil as two main crops that Ghana is losing a lot from because there is no Plant Breeder’s Bill.
“Obantapa is the only maize with the highest protein in the world. And this maize is being grown in the whole West Africa. But Ghana invested in the scientists at Crop Research Institute to produce it.
"But everyone is taking it free without paying a dividend to Ghana. That is what we are saying that we have to protect,” he said.
“Everyone knows oil palm was bred in West Africa. And now we know oil palm is making good money for Malaysia which took the seed from Ghana. If we have this bill, Malaysia will be paying something to Ghana,” the MP noted.
Mr Etu-Bonde was speaking at a career fair on the campus of the University of Ghana organized by the International Association of Agric and Related Sciences Students (IAAS) branch of the University of Ghana, in partnership with Alliance for Science Ghana.
Member of Alliance for Science Ghana Reuben Quainoo in an interview noted there are several job opportunities within the agricultural space that young people need to take advantage of including laboratory work and on the farm assignments.
He said there was the need for young people to look outside regular sources for jobs and think outside the box.
“Advanced technology in agriculture will help accelerate agricultural growth, increase productivity and make our farmers better off,” the Alliance for Science Ghana member said.
The Plant Breeder’s Bill seeks to allow scientists who develop crop varieties to own copyrights over them so they can earn royalties from their work.
It has been before Parliament for about five years but has still not been approved because of long-standing opposition to it by some civil society groups (CSOs).
The CSOs have warned the bill will make farmers lose ownership of indigenous seeds if it becomes law and make them worse off.
But the legislator disagrees.
“We are looking at the Plant Breeder’s Bill to make sure we will get something out of our genetic resources. Just like cocoa. Because ours is premium cocoa, we get a premium price.
"If we have that bill, Malaysia will be paying something to us for palm oil… It’s like copyright or patent thing we are trying to use to protect our genetic resources and scientific invention in agriculture,” he said.