Ghana is in the process of developing two Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) varieties for rice and cowpea.
Dr. Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, a Senior Research Scientist at the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), who announced this said research had proved that GMO varieties were important in the sustainable production of rice and cowpeas in the country.
It is therefore important for Ghanaians to accept and embrace GMO technologies in order to match up with the world’s technological advancement.
Dr. Ampadu-Ameyaw was speaking at a training workshop on GMOs for farmers in the Ejura-Sekyeredumase Municipality.
It was organized by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Ghana, in collaboration with the CSIR as part of efforts to educate farmers and clarify issues and misconceptions on GMOs.
It also created a platform for the farmers to learn about GMO seeds development, regulation, and commercialization in Ghana.
According to Dr. Ampadu-Ameyaw, genetically modified technologies had been identified as one of the safest methods for preventing insect and pest invasion in rice and cowpeas, while saving farmers from losing their crop fields to these insects and pests.
Mr. Daniel Osei Ofosu, a Research Scientist at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) said insects and pests could make farmers lose about 90 percent of their crops on the field.
He cited the Maruca pod borer as one that attacked the cowpea plant, sucked the pod dry, and sometimes, by harvesting time, farmers lose a whole farm to pest infestation.
Attempts by researchers to use the conventional breeding methods to tackle the attacks by aphids, thrips and Striga in cowpea have failed.
However, after some trials with GM technology on a cowpea plantation, it repelled insects from boring and sucking into the plants.
Mr. Ofosu said the GM technologies could complement the conventional ways of breeding to counteract the activities of the pests and cowpea production rate and planted area had declined in the last decade due to pest and insect attacks.
Mr. Ofosu said regulations would soon be applied on GMO seeds to enable farmers to plant to increase production.