“Science Consciousness is Key in our Agriculture Sector”- Former Deputy Agric Minister

Participants of workshop on Plant Breeders’ bill

A former Deputy Agriculture Minister Dr. Ahmed Alhassan Yakubu is asking Ghanaians to embrace the passage of the Plant Breeders’ Bill to help make the country more competitive in the seed industry.

Dr. Alhassan Yakubu says this will encourage more private investments in the seed sector for the benefit of farmers and the nation as a whole.

“We need to work on our science consciousness, we’re not a science conscious nation…..if we let our suspicions surpass our believes in science then we have lost the fight against hunger and poverty” he stated.

Dr. Alhassan made these remarks in an interview with this reporter on the sidelines of a day’s national workshop on Ghana’s Plant Breeders (Plant Variety Protection) Bill, organized by The Registrar General’s Department in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Accra.

The workshop registered over 30 actors selected from key institutions including Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Food Sovereignty Ghana, Peasant Farmers Association, Alliance for Science Ghana, Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness, University of Ghana, Farmers, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute, General Agricultural Workers Union, National Seed Traders Association of Ghana and University of Cape Coast.

Dr. Alhassan explained that the bill will help ensure more investments in the seed industry and ensure availability of good seeds.

“What it seeks to do is to get the scientists who develop the seeds to be paid some royalties to enable the scientists and the organization developing the seeds to continue doing it” he added.

Former Director of the Crop Research Institute and Coordinator of the workshop Prof. Hans Adu-Dapaah added that Breeding takes a long time and a lot of resources to develop new varieties and the efforts of  breeders have to be recognized and rewarded.

“This will encourage the development of more improved varieties tolerant to diseases, pests, heat, drought for use by farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change.” he added.

He indicated that approval processes for the bill was suspended to allow for further consultation following objections by some groups; Food Sovereignty Ghana and Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana.

In an interview with this reporter General Secretary for Food Sovereignty Ghana Tawia Evans said “we want to have access to the newly amended document which will be sent to cabinet, we want to read the whole document and be sure of what is in it but we are in support of the Plant Breeders Bill” he added.

A Farmer and Board Chairman, Ghana Green Label Foundation Mr. Samuel Nii Quarcoo admonished farmers to embrace the Plant Breeders Bill. “The Bill promises to bring great solutions to farmers with diversity, availability and affordability of quality certified seeds” he added.

Farmer Anthony S.K Morrison Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness says if Ghana wants to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, which is ending extreme poverty and hunger then passage of the Plant Breeders Bill is the way to go. “The growth and expansion of the plant breeding profession provides an opportunity to deal with some of these big challenges faced by African countries to increase domestic supply,” he added.

“The bill will help ensure more investments in the seed industry and ensure availability of good seeds. It must be passed as soon as possible,” he told his reporter.

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