The Seed Trade Association of Ghana (STAG) has expressed worry about the country’s dwindling maize production and called for speedy promulgation of seed regulations that will contribute greatly toward operations of the agricultural sector.
“The country’s maize production has declined to 1.3million tonnes this year from about 2 million tonnes in 2012. Our average yield per hectare is two tonnes, while some other African countries are achieving between eight and 10 tonnes per hectare.”
Chairman of STAG Kwabena Adu-Gyamfi, speaking at the launch of the Association and also stakeholder dialogue on seed regulations in the country, said agricultural productivity in the country is quite low compared to the international scene; and that the situation is serious, with effects on food production.
Explaining the country’s low agricultural productivity, Mr. Adu-Gyamfi said the seed industry is a specialised one on its own with all its technical and business requirements.
Speaking on establishment of the Association, Mr. Adu-Gyamfi said the association’s aim is to help farmers to access quality seeds for planting, at affordable prices.
He said the Association also seeks to bring all players in the seed value chain together in order to advocate better policies toward promotion of the seed industry.
“The Association will bridge the gap that exists between farmers and scientists, and help the former access seeds developed by the latter,” Mr. Adu-Gyamfi said.
He said the Association aims at representing interests of the seed industry in Ghana, and helping to boost the farmers’ yields will also allow members to work collectively in dealing with the problems of materials, training and finance.
He said the seed industry is a specialised area, and there is a need for stakeholders to unite and dialogue with government on regulations and policies that will move the industry forward.
“It is a risky business. We need support from government and with STAG we can make the voices of players known to stakeholders,” he said, adding that the Association will also forge partnerships with the public sector to deliver quality seeds to farmers and help bridge the gap between the scientists and members.
He indicated that government has set up a seed policy, but the regulation to really activate the law is still in the works.
He said STAG, which registered at the Registrar-General’s Department as a limited liability private commercial enterprise, is made up of seed companies including Agric Commercial Services Limited, M and B Seeds Limited, Savanna Seeds and Services Limited, Mabert Company Limited, Lexbok Investment Limited, and Rural Innovations Consult Limited.
The others are Rural Innovations Consult Limited, Heritage Seeds Limited, Wienco Ghana Limited, Antika Enterprise Limited, and Meridian Seeds Limited.
Mr. Adu-Gyamfi said the association has participated in reviewing the Seed Regulations of Ghana, stressing that the group is represented on the taskforce set up to help amend the draft Seed Regulations.
Mr. Josiah Wobil, a seed consultant who chaired the programme, commended the founding members for the Association’s formation, saying “This is a laudable step”.
He said formation of the Association gives impetus to government’s vision of the private sector leading in the provision of quality seed for farmers.
Mr. Wobil said though the private sector is playing a leading role in the seed industry, government will continue supporting the sector in researching crop varieties.
The STAG, an umbrella-body of enterprises in the seed value chain, was launched to advance the diverse interests of members. It was established in 2014 with funding from Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, the USAID- Feed the Future Agricultural Technology Project, and the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund.
STAG brings together Ghanaian and private international companies registered in Ghana and operating in the supply, production, processing, distribution and marketing of improved seeds of assorted cereals, legumes, vegetables, roots and tuber varieties.
Within the short period of its existence, STAG has been involved in advocacy to get the Seed Regulations passed to guide implementation of the Plant and Fertiliser Law; get more private sector players on the National Seed Council; and get the price-fixing system of seeds abolished and replaced with a fair market basis for pricing seeds in Ghana.
STAG was represented on the National Task Force that worked to amend the draft seed regulations and align them with those of the ECOWAS Regulations to make them compatible.
STAG facilitated training on advocacy, financial management and communication for members of the Association.