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24.02.2005 Regional News

Utilize varieties of planting materials - Eledi

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Accra, Feb. 24, GNA - Mr Clement Eledi, Deputy Minister-Designate of Food and Agriculture, on Thursday advised farmers to use improved varieties of planting materials to increase their productivity and income levels.

"Improved quality seed, undoubtedly is the answer to achieving increased crop productivity, and, therefore, it is important that we place greater emphasis on the development, production and efficient distribution of quality seed" he said.

Mr Eledi, who was launching the Seed Producers Association of Ghana (SPAG) in Accra, said experts had through research produced high quality varieties of cassava, sweet potatoes, maize and sorghum for cultivation and they must be patronized.

He gave the assurance that the Government would continue to support farmers to make agriculture successful in the country. He said; "it is, however, important to caution that the quality of seed passed on to the farmer would be negatively affected if the distribution and storage system is not well managed".

The Deputy Minister-Designate expressed the Government's commitment to focus on formulating policies with regard to research and development and regulate the activities of players in the seed industry. "The Ministry would forge a closer collaboration with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other institutions to ensure that output of research feeds directly into crops improvement activities," he said.

Government would continue to support nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) to play important role in the development of the seed industry. He condemned the practice where a lot of farmers still used low quality seed for planting because the cost of improved quality seeds were expensive and not within their reach.

He asked farmers to adopt competitive business strategies to gain a lager market for their produce, both in Ghana and other parts of the West Africa Sub- Region.

Professor Owusu Benuah, Director of CSIR, said for farmers to increase their yields and cut down on production cost to become competitive they needed high yielding, disease and pest resistant, nutritious and early maturing seeds.

Mr Lother Deilh, Programme Coordinator of German Technical Agency (GTZ) said: "Agriculture holds the key in reducing poverty, especially in the rural areas."