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21.02.2006 General News

Seed Act and seed policy under review

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Accra Feb. 21, GNA - Mr Ernest Akubuor Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Tuesday announced that the national seed Act and seed policy were currently being reviewed to safeguard the seed industry. "Since 1959, the seed industry in the country has undergone various transformation all aimed at improving the industry to help to achieve national food security and enhance export trade," he said. Mr Debrah, who was opening the third general assembly of the West African Seed and Planting Materials Network (WASNET), said a vibrant seed producers association had been launched to take care of certified seed production.

WASNET is a network of seed producers from West Africa that advocate standardized seed production, marketing and quality control in member countries.

The assembly which had about 40 participants from West Africa and other countries including Kenya and France would discuss issues on seed rules and regulations, seed policies and laws, seed trade and seed needs among other topics which border on food security. Mr Debrah noted that quality seed was vital to the success of agricultural development and urged the private sector to assist and assume responsibility for all commercially viable components of the seed industry.

He said Ghana had a strong seed inspection and certification division to ensure that quality seed was available for planting. "To offset deficiencies in food and raw material production, conscious efforts must be made to produce and use improved inputs, including seeds and planting materials," he said. Mr Debrah said attainment of food security and improvement in the living standard of farmers was high priority issues of the Government's agenda.

The Sector Ministry was, therefore, facilitating the production of extra hectares of selected crops to improve farmers' livelihood, increase employment opportunities for the youth and enhance national food security.

He announced that Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) adopted the Economic Committee of West African States Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) in January 2005 to promote the seed trade.

The adoption of ECOWAP, Mr Debrah said, was intended to ensure sustainable food security in the Sub-Region to rationalize the natural resource base and to ensure decent remuneration for those engaged in agriculture.

Mr Debrah called for more cooperation with other countries in the Sub-Region to enhance the seed trade. Dr Lothar Diehl, Team Leader of the Seed Project, said the agricultural sector was changing rapidly as there was an increased demand for high quality and safe food.

He reiterated that quality seed was needed to guarantee high quality and safe food, saying: "Quality certified seed was important." Dr Diehl commended WASNET for its contribution to agriculture. Dr Stephen Weise, Representative of the Director General of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, said a lot remained to be done in the seed sector, also restating the need for seed certification and quality control system.

Dr Joseph Subah, representative of the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, said agriculture was needed for the survival of the economy of most member countries and repeated that quality seed production was a major step to developed agriculture. 21 Feb. 06