The Third National Seed Forum, under the theme: “Facilitating Seed Industry through Knowledge, Collaboration and Strategic Planning”, was held in Accra on November 7 – 10, 2022.
The Forum was organized by the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG) and the National Seed Council with support from the Ghana Inclusive Agricultural Transformation (GIAT) Program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) acting through AGRA,
The African Seed Access Index (TASAI) and the Feed the Future (FtF) PolicyLink programme.
The forum was attended by participants from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), research institutions, farmer organizations, seed companies, civil society organizations, research institutions and development partners.
The main outcomes of the Forum were a draft Ghana Seed Sector Strategy and Investment Plan; an enhanced awareness of responsibilities and required skills for actors along the seed value chain; enhanced opportunities that led to effective networking among seed industry players; and discussions that led to the validation of the 2022 TASAI Ghana Country Report.
A committee was established to undertake a process of country-wide validation of the draft Ghana Seed Sector Strategy and Investment Plan, which process will give the wider range of seed sector stakeholders in all the Regions an opportunity to make their inputs into the Plan which, at the end, will be submitted to the Minister for adoption by MoFA as an update to the 2015 National Seed Plan.
At the end of the Forum, the Participants, having considered all the main outcomes and recommendations made in the draft Ghana Seed Sector Strategy and Investment Plan, as well as other issues relating to the current status of the seed industry, its opportunities, constraints and aspirations for the future, adopted, for presentation to the Minister and the key partners of the seed industry, a COMMUNIQUE as follows:
Research, Variety Development and Release Participants recognize the critical role of research and reminded Government of its commitment to implement the Malabo Declaration by which 10% of GDP is to be dedicated to Agricultural development, requesting that at least 1% of the quantum be reserved for the support of varietal research and development.
Innovative ways, including levying of agricultural imports and commercial transactions on agricultural inputs, in the context of an active Plant and Fertilizer Fund, should be adopted to ensure sustainable funding for varietal research and development.
Participants also urge that the process of variety release and registration and its adjunct, the National Seed Bank operations, should be properly resourced and technically structured, as per international norms and standards and the process streamlined to cut down on cost and duration to encourage breeders to be more productive and make Ghana a preferred site for corporate variety release in the ECOWAS Region Biotechnology in crop improvement Participants encourage the Government to progressively create the necessary platform for safe and effective use of biotechnology applications and Genetically Modified (GM) crops in the national seed industry as a means of rapidly attaining the national food security goals.
In that regard, participants recommended that Government should support the training of all categories of staff in biotechnology, provide infrastructural and logistical support, and support the setting up of laboratories in the appropriately mandated agencies, in their work of unearthing technology innovations to find effective and sustainable solutions to the current global food crisis.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) (Plant Variety Protection)Participants urge the Government to continue to facilitate the implementation of the Plant Variety Protection Act (Act 1050) by enhancing the process of passing the legislative instrument that will establish the Regulations for implementing the Act which is aimed at encouraging breeders in their work and enhancing the business aspects of the seed industry and farmer confidence as well as boosting agricultural productivity through the development and release of improved varieties, improved seed accessibility and protection of plant genetic products.
Data on Seed Sector Participants recognize the catalytic role of data and statistics in seed sector development and urge MOFA to take leadership in the establishment of data and database platforms that will enhance the operations of the seed industry.
Towards that end, MOFA and the seed industry must partner up in the collation of data so that all information requested might be consistent and accurate regardless of the source.
Further, issues relating to data on informal seed sector operations, internet-based technology on seed demand-forecasting, and the establishment of a user-friendly online resource database that incorporates all relevant extension and agricultural training materials must be seriously addressed.
Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ)Participants advise that Government should endeavour, as a matter of urgency, to settle all arrears for seeds supplied over the past two years under the PFJ program.
The non-payment has had a negative impact on seed businesses, impairing ability of seed companies to produce adequately to meet national goals as well as earn enough income for improved livelihoods.
The NSC and NASTAG should work closely together to develop a post-PFJ marketing strategy that will enhance seed growers’ effective marketing skills in a possible non-subsidized period.
Capacity Building within the Seed Sector Participants recommend that NASTAG, in cooperation with MoFA and development partners, should prioritize capacity building among all seed industry players, particularly to address the need for adequate knowledge and skills to implement the policy, plans and legislation that govern the industry.
Priority issues in that regard are the proper processes to introduce hybrid seed production, training and capacitation of public and private extension officers as well as the capacitation of seed distributors.
NASTAG is further urged to cooperate with GSID in joint efforts to train and improve the processes of recruiting seed growers, private seed inspectors and other processes that will enhance the effectiveness of the regulatory work of GSID.
Further, NASTAG should seek the assistance of MOFA and all other partners to facilitate capacity building in business management, product knowledge and agronomy and scaling for seed distributors to improve sustainability and quality of service provision, drive the establishment of more outlets for farmer access to quality seed, and diversify the supply of crop seed varieties with emphasis on improved varieties.
Seed Quality and Certification Participants noted the critical role of GSID-PPRSD in certification and urged that adequate resources be allocated to the Division to enhance its regulatory function.
In that regard, the expectation is that a properly resourced GSID would be more effective in checking the incidences of adulterated and fake seeds sold to farmers; build the capacity of custom officers to minimize delays in cross border seed movements. and develop seed certification protocols for admitting into seed certification, additional priority scheduled/focus crops, including vegetatively propagated crops.
Seed Sector Infrastructure Participants noted the sad stage of the national seed infrastructure and lauded the Government’s current effort to rehabilitate the aged public sector seed stores and processing plants sited across the Regions and recommended that Seed Companies should also be assisted with concessionary financing to acquire their own seed storage and processing structure that are in tune with their own requirement.
Government may also prioritize allocation of irrigation facilities for deployment by seed companies particularly for off-season seed multiplication and to meet the needs of high value and specialized crop types and varieties.
Seed Regulatory Framework Participants accepted that all stakeholders are enjoined to promote the implementation of the protocols of the seed regulatory framework and particularly in the engagement of Public extension agents (AEAs) to be trained as third-party seed certification personnel, training and effective deployment of third party seed certification personnel.
Participants finally urge Government to provide adequate support to National Seed Council to effectively carry out its mandate of oversight of the seed sector, particularly, overall seed sector planning and coordination The 3rd National Seed Forum was an outstanding opportunity to enhance dialogue among seed industry stakeholders to facilitate the continuous consultation on emerging issues for the rapid and effective growth of the national seed industry and was an outstanding success which requires the further input from Government and developing partners by way of commitment of needed resources for the sustained implementation towards vibrant and buoyant Seed industry.
CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL SEED COUNCIL
PRESIDENT, NASTAG (KWABENA ADU-GYAMFI)