The SeedSAT project, which makes use of technology to improve a country’s seed system, has proven to be highly effective in three African nations – Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi. Ghana is the most recent country to employ the technology to improve its seed system.
The United States department of agriculture (USDA) considers Ghana’s seed industry to be in its infancy. According to the department, rice and corn make up approximately 70% of certified seed sales in the East African country. One requires an import permit to purchase and bring certified seeds in from another country, as is stipulated by the Plants and Fertiliser Act, 2010 (Act 803).
Recently, the president of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) made a statement that encourages the Ghanian seed industry to ensure the “right varieties” of seeds were being used in planting, as the knock-on effect of using bad or low quality seeds is largely negative.
“According to the seed industry, the sales volume of certified seeds in the formal sector is low providing less than 20% of the total seed demand. The remaining 80% of demand is supplied by informal sources. The GOG regulates corn, rice, cowpea, soybean, sorghum, and peanut seed production. Meanwhile, corn and rice seeds account for over 70% of the sales of certified seeds,” the USDA said via a report on the state of Ghana’s seeds, submitted to the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).
Importance of informal seed industry
Ghana’s seed business encompasses both legal and informal seed production and supply systems. The formal seed system is characterised by the production and purchase of commercially certified seeds, whereas the informal seed system is based on local seed production and exchange. Seed exchanges with other farms, purchases from local markets, and seed saving are all possibilities. The informal seed business is extremely important, accounting for almost 80% of all main seeds used in the country.
“Ghana privatised its formal seed sector in 1990, under a new seed program, which allows the private sector to participate in aspects of the sector such as certified seed production and supply. The public sector is to retain the varietal development, seed inspection, and policy responsibilities. As such the private sector’s role in Ghana’s seed system, although slow, has been increasing, with private companies actively involved in certified seed production and sale.”
SeedSAT ‘highly effective’
AGRA has now launched the SeedSAT project in conjunction with Ghana’s department of food and agriculture to ensure that high-quality seeds are distributed and planted across the country.
With sponsorship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the SeedSAT programme analyses key indicators of a country’s seed system, evaluating them on eight thematic areas, and then providing crucial recommendations on how to boost the delivery and usage of better seed varieties. The tool often combines data from existing resources and assessments with subject matter expertise to help uncover the main cause of a country’s seed system’s shortcomings.
Despite a global inorganic fertiliser production challenge, AGRA is aiding Ghana in making a big push toward large-scale organic fertiliser manufacturing as well. Organic fertilisers that contain plant or animal-based ingredients, that are either a byproduct or end product of naturally occurring processes include animal dung and composted organic materials.
Also read: The rise of urine as an organic pesticide and fertiliser in Africa