Dr Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, the National Coordinator of Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology, has urged farmers in the Eastern region to embrace biotechnology to improve production.
According to him, biotechnology was not targeted at engineering every crop in the system, but rather only those of high economic value and dispelled the assertions that crops in Ghana were going to be genetically engineered.
Dr Ampadu-Ameyaw gave the advice at a stakeholder’s engagement with the farmers on the topic “The Role of Modern Tech Improving Agricultural Productivity and Livelihood” in Kpong in the Eastern Region.
The forum was organised by the Rite Fm Agric Forum in collaboration with the Alliance for Science, Ghana.
Dr Ampadu-Ameyaw, who is also a Senior Scientist at the Council for Scientific Research and Industrial Research, stated that there had been controversies and misconceptions that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops posed health risks and would displace Ghanaian farmers when introduced into the country.
He explained that the information was misleading as the GMO crops had been used by several countries for the past 20 years without any report of death.
He said their outfit was determined to sensitise farmers to understand the benefits of the new technology and adapt it for improved crop production.
According to him, Scientists said some diseases could not be controlled with the conventional breeding, but with the new technology, the crops are engineered to withstand specific diseases and harsh environmental conditions
Dr Ampadu-Ameyaw was of the view that technology would help produce quality seeds, but it does not mean that current technology used in producing conventional seeds was not going to produce quality seeds any longer.
He explained to the farmers that GMO was not the solution to solving all agricultural problems, but a complement to the existing technologies and it behoves on farmers to make the decisions.
Mr George Oduro, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, said agriculture held the fortunes of the country’s economic transformation, creating job and sustained food security, as it employs close to 45 per cent of the active population, majority of whom are women.
He said government in 2017, introduced the Planting for Food and Jobs campaign to increase productivity and production for food security, raw material supply for industry, create jobs and contribute to the improvement in the livelihoods for the teeming population.
“Under the Planting for Food and Jobs, we registered 202,000 small holder farmers to cultivate maize, rice, soya bean, sorghum and vegetables (tomato, onion and pepper), provided 4,400 metric tonnes of Maize, four metric tonnes of vegetable seed, distributed 296,000 metric tonnes of chemical and 134,000 metric tonnes in 2016”.
He stressed that government had provided marketing opportunities for farmers through the buffer stock programme and that the Buffer Stock Company to aggregate farm produce from farmers, engaged about 1300 Licence Buying Companies.
Mr Davies Narh Korboe, the National Best Farmer in 2009, called for a national dialogue to discuss about the importance of GMO because he believe that a lot need to be done to educate farmers and the public on biotechnology.
He urged farmers to see farming as a business and the need to mechanise agriculture backed by improve technology.