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23.09.2003 General News

Farmers not patronizing certified quality seeds

By GNA
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Tamale, Sept. 23, GNA - Only about 20 percent out of the 50 tonnes of certified quality seeds produced by seed growers in the country are purchased or used by farmers because of their high cost. For instance, a poor farmer has to sell four bags of maize to buy a bag of certified seed maize.

Mr Sylvester Adongo, Northern Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, (MOFA), said this at the opening of a three-day technical training workshop organized by the Ministry for selected stakeholders in the seed industry in Tamale on Tuesday.

Seed growers, seed dealers, farmers and seed inspectors from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions are attending the forum. They would be taken through topics such as "Advances and challenges in seed production and marketing", "Food Crop Development Project's support to the seed industry and its experience in agricultural development", "Group analysis of seed industry, problems and solutions", "Elements of seed quality testing and its implications".

Other topics are: "Principles and practices of seed processing" and "Seed marketing, promotion and strategy.

Mr Adongo stressed the need for seed growers to adopt effective marketing strategies to sell seeds to farmers at affordable prices, saying that this could be done if they used modern techniques of seed production to reduce cost.

Mr Adam Kaleem, chairman of the Seed Growers Association (SGA), said both last year and this year, certified soybean seed and sorghum were in short supply, noting that over the past years, there had been a mixture of seed varieties produced, especially maize and rice.

He held that the unrestricted rice importation into the country could lead to the introduction of genetically modified species, which could have adverse health effects on the people and also make research findings of the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and the Ghana Legumes Development Board (GLDB) irrelevant.

Mr Kaleem appealed to NGOs to intervene to enhance the capacity building of seed growers in the production and marketing chain of seed distribution in the country.

Dr Addulai Salifu, Director of SARI, said the seed industry in sub-Saharan Africa had not been effectively commercialised, hence people engaged in that sector were not making profit.

He therefore called on both the private and public sectors of the industry to rise up to the challenge by managing seed production as business enterprises.

He said there were currently more than 150 small-scale seed dealers who sold seed and other inputs to farmers in local areas. "There are also some growers, small to medium-scale farmers and cooperatives who produce seed under the government-sponsored seed certification programme", he said.

Mr Ernest Debrah, Northern Regional Minister, in a speech read for him, drew the attention of the participants to international marketing opportunities that they could benefit from if they organized themselves well.

He appealed to NGOs, district assemblies and donor agencies engaged in poverty alleviation activities to assist seed growers and sellers to expand their farms and sales outlets by supporting seed inspectors to assure farmers of high quality seeds.

One way to achieve this is for them to support seed promotion through the numerous FM stations in the country, he suggested. 23 Sept. 03

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