There Is Room For Improvement Says Deputy Agric Minister

In Ghana News Feed
Feb 12th, 2014

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, has noted that the rise in yields associated with the introduction of new seeds has proven to be short-lived and, further, national average yields have remained substantially below potential yield levels.

He ascribed several reasons for this yield gap – among which are inadequate supply of certified seeds, so that farmers do not have reliable access to improved seeds.

Secondly, the farmers do not apply the recommended levels of fertiliser and other agronomic practices;and finally, markets are not well developed.

In spite of the above, he observed that the country has been adjudged the fifth-most food secure nation in Africa after South Africa, Botswana, Tunisia and Egypt – though he stated that this should not make the country complacent.

Dr. Alhassan said these yesterday when he officially opened a two-day stakeholder workshop on a scaling seeds and technology platform that brought together over 150 stakeholders from government, Ministries and Agencies, NGOs, Research Institutions, international development organisations, and some universities.

The workshop aims at identifying key technologies and innovations with the potential to be made widely available; identifying the potential regions in Ghana to implement activities of the partnership; andproviding relevant information to stakeholders about available opportunities for support by the partnership to support increased implementation in the country.

The long-term beneficiaries will be smallholder farmers.

In July last year (2013), USAID and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) announced the Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership, a US$47million three-year partnership intended to accelerate smallholder farmer’s access to transformative agricultural technologies.

The Partnership is currently working in six countries within the G8′s New Alliance for Food Security –Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, and Tanzania – where it is helping governmentsstrengthen their seed sectors and promote commercialisation, distribution and adoption of improved seeds by 45 percent in three years, and ensuring that 40 percent more farmers gain access to innovative agricultural technologies.

The Deputy Minister also noted that the focus on research has resulted in some great technologies, but researchers are not equipped and resourced to take them nationwide. He said there is a need to build the machinery to take such technologies to small holder farmers, particularly in rural environments.

He said government recognises the need to bring the private sector on board to increase the volume of improved seeds to smallholder farmers. Government, he said, will partner the private sector to revamp the seed processing centres in Kumasi, Tamale and Winneba.

Dr. Kehinde Makinde of AGRA who represented the Country Head, Dr. Kwasi Ampofo, said AGRA’s mission is to contribute to food security in Africa through a range of activities and participants in the agricultural value chain.

“AGRA aims to double agricultural productivity of staple crops by 2020, raise GDP growth by at least 5.5% annually, and lift 20 million people out of poverty on the continent.”

Dr. Makinde said through AGRA’s flagship programme on the Programme for Africa’s Seeds System, it has invested US$20million in Ghana’s seed sector.

The Ghana meeting is the fifth of six national stakeholder consultation meetings of in-depth national-level dialogues on scaling-up farmers’ access to agricultural innovation in New Alliance countries.

The New Alliance for Food security and Nutrition is a shared commitment to achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth and raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years, by aligning the commitment of Africa’s leadership to drive effective country plans and policies for food security.

By Konrad K. Djaisi

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