Food security: Professor Danquah advocates increased local seed production

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Prof Eric Danquah (middle) addressing the meeting
Prof Eric Danquah (middle) addressing the meeting

Professor Eric Danquah, Founding Director, West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana, has advocated increased local seed production in Ghana, as part of efforts to ensure food security.

This, he said would also go a long way to reduce Ghana’s dependence on imported seeds.

Prof Danquah made the appeal in his remarks at the opening of a high-level consultative meeting in Accra to develop a compelling case for investments in the value chains of rice, maize, soybean, cowpea, cassava and tomato for the development of agribusinesses for food security and socio-economic development in Ghana.

The three-day programme aims to enhance agribusinesses to ensure Ghana’s food security and socio-economic development.

Prof Danquah reiterated that the billions of dollars spent on importation of seeds, feed, food and raw materials were wasteful and could be used in other important areas of the economy for sustainable development.

He said current developments globally were warning signals that no nation should continue to rely on food imports.

He noted that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years had taught the world the need for nations to become self-reliant in seed production, saying that with the COVID-19 lockdowns, importation of fertilizers and seeds was delayed, thereby affecting agriculture production in some countries.

He urged the Government to prioritise investment in scientific research to help produce improved seeds for farmers to facilitate Ghana’s food security and socio-economic development.

Prof Danquah said WACCI, a World Bank Centre of Excellence was playing a critical role in the production of seeds and the training of plant breeders in the West Africa subregion and across Africa.

He said if 40 per cent of maize farmers were to access WACCI’s maize variety, Ghana would be self-sufficient in maize.

Dr Maxwell D. Asante, Rice Breeder/Deputy Director, Crop Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), did a presentation dubbed “Achieving Rice Self-Sufficiency in Ghana: A Case for Investment in the Rice Value Chain in Ghana”.

He said current demand for milled rice was 1,330,000 metric tonnes (MT), while local production of milled rice was 622,000MT, making Ghana 47 per cent self-sufficient in rice production.

“Consequently, we spend between $200 million to $500 million on rice importation.”

He said current and upcoming rice varieties provide a great opportunity for Ghana to achieve rice self-sufficiency.

Participants at the conference were drawn from institutions such as Agromite Limited, Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending Project (GIRSAL), Agribusiness Consult, AGRI-Impact Consult, Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), and Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural Agricultural Plant Products (ASNAPP).

The rest are Hope line Institute, the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research of the University of Ghana (ISSER-UG), School of Agriculture-UG, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of Ghana-Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI), the Directorate of Crop Services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (DCS-MoFA) and the Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (PPMED-MoFA)

The WACCI (http://www.wacci.ug.edu.gh) is a notable World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ghana and one of the finest institutions globally for training plant breeders at the PhD level.

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