Agricultural sector stakeholders in Ghana have expressed confidence that a revised Seed Sector Strategy and Investment Plan currently being drafted will boost the country’s agricultural production.
A four-day meeting opened in Ghana’s capital Accra on Monday with about 60 seed experts from across the country and the sub-region participating, to draft the new strategy. The new strategy will review the National Seed Plan (2015).
The National Seed Plan describes the specific actions to be taken to implement the National Seed Policy which was launched in May 2013.
The policy recommends actions the country should take to improve the seed system including research and variety development, seed production, seed marketing, seed entrepreneursip, and the regulatory environment, among other areas.
The meeting dubbed the 3rd National Seed Forum is under the theme, “Facilitating the Seed Industry through Knowledge, Collaboration and Strategic Planning.” The Seed Sector Strategy and Investment Plan is expected to strengthen Ghana’s seed industry by promoting the adoption and utilization of certified seed by the country’s farmers.
“The Ghana National Seed Council believes that the forum, with various activities over the next four days, will launch a wonderful period of polishing up to accelerate the industry and address the remaining issues, which will complementarily address the needs of our hardworking farmers, agro-industry, and the consuming public,” said Josiah Wobil, Chairman of Ghana’s National Seed Council.
Regina Richardson, Programs Officer at AGRA told the meeting, “The 3rd National Seed Forum is being held at an opportune moment when the seed sector needs to consolidate the gains made and develop sustainable models to address constraints inhibiting the growth of the sector.”
Officials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG), The African Seed Access Index (TASAI), and other seed sector stakeholders are participating in the meeting. Kwabena Adu Gyamfi, President of NASTAG observed: “Food has become very relevant in Ghana today looking at the economic issues. Food is driving inflation and we have no business sitting down and not looking at our seed sector.”
Ghana’s seed sector has grown tremendously in the past few years, with the development and availability of improved and locally adapted seed varieties. However, the adoption is still marginal, with just about 30% of the farmers using the improved varieties. The slow pace of adoption is linked to inadequate compliance with seed legislation by various key seed value chain operators, and the disregard of the rules and procedures of the Seed Certification and Standard Regulations.
Kwasi Wih who is head of the Ghana Seed Inspection Division of Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said stakeholders will ensure that they take advantage of the forum to help improve the seed industry. “Quality seeds are the pre-requisite to successful agriculture and constitute a major pathway for the achievement of national security goals… There is a need to ensure the widespread availability of quality seeds throughout the country. It’s important that institutions and structures required to support the implementation of a good seed system are streamlined and properly equipped and managed to ensure the seed sector plays its required role in the country’s agricultural transformation,” he said.
The four-day workshop follows a successful deployment of the Seed Systems Analysis Tool (SeedSAT), to analyze the functioning of eight (8) key thematic areas of the national seed system and make prioritized recommendations for interventions to support a robust seed sector. A communique will be issued at the end of the workshop on the way forward in developing the new strategy. AGRA is leading this effort with the support of the U.S. Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), under the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) umbrella.
Lily Amber Kenny who is Director of the Economic Growth Office at USAID said Ghana’s farmers can be a breadbasket for all of West Africa with the proper financing resources and tools which include seeds and fertilizers. “Insufficient quantities of certified seeds, foundation seeds, and breeder seeds that drive the supply chain are key constraints affecting the growth and competitiveness of the seed sector,” she observed.
“As we enter a new phase of programming with AGRA, this event (3rd National Seed Forum) is very timely, given the circumstances and the challenges farmers have getting improved seeds and inputs. This gathering gives us the perfect opportunity to review the existing National Seed Plan and support the development of a seed investment plan for Ghana,” she added.