29 August 2017

Local seed industry needs more gov’t support

The National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG) is demanding more support from the government for the local seed industry to ensure food security.

President of NASTAG Thomas Havor says better-resourced seed companies will supply improved seed varieties to farmers and this will result in higher crop yields to meet the increasing demand for food. He is particularly asking the government to implement provisions in the Plants and Fertiliser Act 2010 requiring that a fund is established to support seed industry. “More funds are needed to support research, maintain laboratories, train young scientist and help with the development of new seed varieties,” he explained.

“Right now, all the old people are going on retirement. That is why the human resource is such a major issue in the research stations and universities. Because there is no money. But if funds are available, it will bring in enough money to take care of that,” he told Joy News.

It will be recalled that Minister for Food and Agriculture Dr. Akoto Owusu Afriyie recently expressed disappointment over the inability of local seed producing companies to provide enough seeds for supply to farmers under the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme. The government had to import seeds from Burkina Faso for farmers.

But Mr. Havor says they cannot be blamed for this because the government did not involve them in the programme early enough. “When the government started making plans to do this programme, they did not involve the stakeholders. So by the time they launched this programme, the season in the south had already gone before they began to involve the seed producers,” he explained. Mr. Havor, however, says increased support to seed producing companies will help them meet local needs without having to rely on external support.

He was speaking to Joy news at the official outdooring of the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG), which has brought together players within the seed industry under one umbrella. A new council for NASTAG was also inducted into office.

Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. SagreBambangiwho spoke at the event commended NASTAG for the move, noting the fact that private sector is leading it will ensure a higher success rate. He noted: “NASTAG provides all stakeholders, including the Ghana Government, relevant Ministry, Departments and Agencies and development partners with a platform led by the private sector.”

“NASTAG has become the apex body in the layers of the seed industry whether you are marketing seeds, producing seeds or processing seeds. We have a uniformed voice to bring competition into the seed industry,” noted Patrick OsofoApulla who is President of Seed Producers Association of Ghana which is a member of NASTAG.

Currently, only about 11 percent of farmers use improved certified seeds for production and the association is hoping to increase this to 25 percent within the next five years.

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