Invest In Scientific Research Into Agriculture

Source: Graphic Online

The Director of the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), Professor Eric Y. Danquah, has asked Ghana and the rest of Africa to prioritise investment in scientific research to help produce improved seeds for farmers to facilitate the continent’s green revolution.

He said the failure of African countries to partner academic institutions to conduct scientific research and human resource development was a challenge to the continent’s agricultural transformation agenda.

“There are gaps in the governments’ agricultural policies because they are not based on scientific research and so initiatives cannot be sustainable over time. Elsewhere, academic institutions lead research and come up with scientific basis for implementing agricultural policies and innovations, and this is what we need in Africa if we are to transform the agricultural sector,” he added.

Event

Prof. Danquah made the call at the launch of a report on improved seeds at the ongoing Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Accra yesterday.

The report, dubbed: “Improved seeds improve lives”, was conducted by Seed Systems Group (SSG), a Nairobi-based organisation, in partnership with the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

It is based on the experiences of 15 African countries that partnered AGRA in the past decade to implement initiatives to grow the African seed industry.

According to the report, the 15 countries, which included Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya and Uganda, saw improvements in their respective seed industries within the 10-year period.

For instance, it said, locally owned seed companies in those countries could now produce 150,000 tonnes of improved seeds annually, which was enough to plant seven million hectares of land and provide food for 20 million families.

Also, those countries now had a rich pool of 700 newly bred and government-approved crop varieties, representing 14 different food crops such as maize, rice, leafy green vegetables, beans and legumes, it added.

On Ghana, the report said since 2008, the country had grown from three companies producing about 128 tonnes of seeds to eight companies producing about 6,000 tonnes of seeds.
It also said farmers in Ghana now had access to improved hybrid seeds and crops.

Focus

The President of SSG, Mr Joseph DeVries, who presented the report, said the focus was to replicate the outcomes in 15 other African countries, including Togo, Benin, Angola, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and Niger.

He said a study on those countries showed that they had a combined farmer population of 38 million and total population of 315 million.

He said those countries could significantly improve their average child malnutrition rate of 38 per cent and food security by developing their seed industries.

“Even if one-third of the farmers in the 15 countries are able to obtain improved seeds, they can generate an additional 25 million tonnes of food worth $4 billion,” he added.

Mr DeVries said to improve economic growth and reduce widespread hunger and malnutrition in Africa, there must be the increasing use of improved seeds to boost agricultural productivity.



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