Local seed industry needs to be strengthened – NASTAG

The Vice President of the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana, Felicia Afia Owusu Nyantakyi has called on the government to work at strengthening the local seed industry as it will enhance the provision of the needed seed inputs for the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative in the medium to long term.

Speaking to Goldstreet Business, Mrs. Nyantakyi said “there is the need to strengthen the local seed industry with the required supervision in seed production at all the various levels.”

Nyantakyi explained that, looking at the quantity of seed input that government requires for the PFJ programme, there is a tendency for people to import grains but erroneously call it seed.

Some farmers, who benefited from the supply of seeds under the PFJ programme, have counted losses as it emerged that they were supplied with grains rather than seeds for cultivation.

This situation, the farmers explained, has led to their inability to meet targets and sustain operations.

Nyantakyi noted that, “seeds used during the PFJ programme last year from local producers were all certified seeds and not grains, however, there were others that were brought in from elsewhere and I think we had issues with them in terms of germination rates, among other issues.”

Government should therefore endeavour to pay the arrears of the seed producers so that they can continue their operations and produce seeds on time and in the right quantities, she said.

“Their inability to do that would give government room to import which apart from killing our local seed production sector, it would bring along with it the attendant issues which include the recent fall army worm infestation for instance,” Nyantakyi explains.

Productivity and growth in agriculture requires a vibrant agricultural inputs supply system, particularly seeds.

Although Ghana’s seed sector has undergone some significant changes including the approval of a new seed law and regulations, the appointment of a National Seed Council, and the emergence of a more diversified commercial seed sector, in the past few years, there are still regulatory and administrative bottlenecks affecting full linearization of the sector.

According to a World Bank report on agriculture, factors critical to the development of the seed sector includes procedures for variety release, seed quality inspection and certification, consumer protection, access to breeder seed, provision of information to farmers, and seed prices and subsidies.

Currently, Ghana’s seed system largely depends on public support, with minimal private sector participation in the seed value-chain – from production of breeder seed, formulation seed, its implementation, and the production and distribution of certified seed – has been fraught with cost inefficiencies.

By Joshua W. Amlanu