- By:Michael Darko
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The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in the Northern Region has engaged some farmers in the Tolon District on impending dangers with regard to the fall armyworm infestation in Ghana as they prepare to begin the 2017 cropping season. The engagement, according to Maize Breeder of SARI Madam Gloria Boakye-Adu, is to serve as a platform to build the capacity of farmers by educating them on what to expect in the cropping season and adequately prepare farmers in scouting, detecting, and possible control measures in the fight against the fall armyworm pests on their farms. Fall army worm has already invaded some farms in the southern part of Ghana, destroying about a thousand hectors of farms already. The pests, which were detected in April, 2016, at the close of the 2016 cropping season destroyed a total of 1,038 hectors of farms in the Northern Region alone. The fall army worm originated from Central and South American and found itself into West Africa in January, 2016 and finally arrived in Ghana in April, 2016 after they were detected by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute. The pest, which is the larval form of the fall armyworm moth, has appetite for consuming more than 100 different species including maize, cereals, and leafy vegetables. They destroyed 1.4million hectors of maize and cowpea farms in six regions in 2016 and have destroyed over thousand hectors of farms already in the 2017 cropping season which has been described as unprecedented. Farmers were taken through the live span of the armyworm and how it feeds on plants to create a vivid picture of the pest and put farmers on the lookout for them on their farms. “The Savannah Agriculture Research Institute thinks it is prudent to engage farmers ahead of the 2017 cropping season owing to the over one thousand hectors of farms in 2016 after SARI discovered the pest in April. The engagement which is ongoing in the Northern, Upper East and West Regions seeks to educate farmers on how to detect, scout, and manage the pest on their farms”. Though the pests have already invaded about 30 farms in the Gushegu District and several others in the Tatale-Sanguli district, Madam Gloria Boakye-Adu explains the time is now. The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute opines that engaging farmers on early detection, scouting and management measures before the 2017 cropping season takes a full swing in the region is necessary. On SARI not being proactive on their mandate of research and educating farmers even before the start of the 2017 cropping season to avert the massive destruction, Madam Boakye-Adu revealed SARI needed to research extensively and know the potency. “Farming season is yet to begin here thus we are not behind schedule on this, SARI before we give out anything to our farmers must research and be sure of the potency in what method we give, we engage seed producers, non-governmental organizations who are into farming on these measures”. This advocacy will be extended to the Volta, Central, Brong Ahafo, and Central regions through their partners. She revealed controlling the pest in the 2016 cropping season was a bit difficult because most farmers had already planted as the pest were detected at a critical stage that made it difficult to control. The 2017 armyworm advocacy programme which has already began in the Northern, Upper East, and Upper West regions will be extended to the Volta, Central, Brong Ahafo, and Central regions through their partners to ensure a nationwide success. As part of the awareness creation, SARI has produced detailed brochures for farmers access and learn how to detect and scout for the pests in farms, manage the pests and form supportive groups in the community to control the pest. She encourages farmers not to try to control the pest in isolation as farmers who do will not make much progress because of the polyphagia nature of the pest. “Farmers should form supportive groups in the communities to fight the pests because they will not make much gains if farmers try managing them in isolation because the pests are migratory species”. The team visited some farms, which have already been invaded by the pests. Abdulai Mohammed has been farming for 15 years and he says though he heard of the fall army worm in 2016, he only saw a few of them on his farm during the harvesting period thus the early attack on his farm comes as a new thing to him. “This is my farm. I have been farming for fifteen years. I saw the worms during harvesting in 2016 but saw it this year as soon as my maize shot up. I reported it to the agric director who sent some of his workers to inspect but he later called to confirm that what I have on my farm is army worm so he said the farm would be sprayed. I must confess that this is the first time I am seeing then them this early”.
- By:Michael Darko
- Hits: 329
Ghana and India are collaborating under a Pilot Research Project on Tomato Production, which would ensure that there is abundance production and supply of the crop in the country all year through.
The project which seeks to pilot tomato production technologies in three ecological zones Ada, Kumasi and Navrongo is also aimed at producing more pest resistance, high yielding tomato that would last for many days on the shelf.
Implementation of the Tomato Partnership agreement was signed between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ghana and the National Research Development Co-operation (NRDC) of India, funded by Indian.
The three-year piloting of the project had ended and so the two institutions held an end of project ceremony in Accra, marking the beginning of technology transfer to Ghana.
At the ceremony, officials of the Crop Research Institute of CSIR, Ghana and the NRDC of the Indian CSIR, main implementers of the pilot project, expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the project, saying, when it is fully implemented in all tomato growing areas of the country, it would cut down on imports of tomato from neighbouring countries.
Mrs Stella Ama Ennin, Director of Crop Research Institute–CSIR, said the closing ceremony marks the beginning of taking the findings through a varietal release process by the National Varietal Release Committee to enable a full role up of the programme in the tomato growing community.
She said the finding helped found solution to the tomato yellow leaf curl virus that plague most tomato plants and thereby causing low yields, and also a more resistance seed had been produced to be released to the farmers after being certified through the varietal process.
She said as part of the pilot project, farmers and extension officers were trained on best farming practices, and other irrigation programmes. She said by the end of 2018, all tomato farmers in the communities would have access to the tomato seed for production.
Professor Victor Kwame Agyeman, Director General of CSIR said any intervention or technology that aimed at improving agricultural productivity and enhancing food security and improving the lots of poor smallholder farmers could not be underestimated.
He therefore, commended India for the partnership that would help improve the production of tomato in Ghana, boosting food security, as well as end importation.
“We cannot achieving the United Nation SDG of ending hunger, achieving food security, improving, nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture, when we fail to implement such evidence farming practices.”
Mr Birender Singh Yadav, Indian High Commissioner, said the Embassy would work to ensure that the project become another shining example of India-Ghana partnership.
He explained that the project which involved human resource technology and capacity building was a south-south co-operation showing best practices that would help Ghana become self-sufficient in tomato production.
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, whose speech was read on his behalf said the partnership was very welcoming and the result of the pilot would form the basis for replication in more tomato producing areas in Ghana.
He said the production of tomato, which was one of the most important vegetables that is consumed in every household on daily basis in the country, was faced by many constraints such as poor varieties that have low yields and were susceptible to various diseases and pest.
He said the poor agronomic practices by farmers also contributed to low yields and quality of fruits harvested, which eventually also lead to poor market prices.
He expressed happiness that the project would contribute to the sustainable increase in tomato production and processing in the country so as to, generate employment, reduce rural poverty and enhance agro-industrial growth of the tomato industry in Ghana.
“The successes chalked under this project and the sharing of its results today is in the right direction coming just after the launch of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, which has tomato as one of the focal commodities”, he said.
Dr Girish Sahni, Head of CSIR-India, said science and technology was the only hope to bridge the poverty gap between the rich and the poor, and therefore scientists needed to come together to find solutions to the world’s problems relating to technology.
- By:Super User
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The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has suspended trials of GMO cotton in the country after US Company Monsanto withdrew funding.
Monsanto, the world’s leading Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seeds producer is facing challenges in Burkina Faso after that country rejected GMO cotton and began a phased withdrawal of the novel products. Farmers have now returned to growing conventional seeds.
The trials being undertaken by CSIR scientists form part of regulatory requirements before the GMO cotton can be commercialized in Ghana. The development means there will be no GMO cotton for farmers to make use of anytime soon.
Work on the project froze in 2016 but Researcher at the Savaanah Agric Research Institute (SARI) of the CSIR and Principal Investigator on the project Dr. Emmanuel Chamba tells Joy news it’s now been officially suspended.
“After two years of the on-station confined field trials, the next step was to go to the farmers’ field. After which we will be thinking of commercial release. Unfortunately, because of the situation in Burkina Faso, Monsanto pulled out.
"And because Monsanto was funding the program, they suspended it in Ghana also,” Dr. Chamba explained in an interview with Joy News’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo.
The GMO cotton known as Bt cotton, has been engineered to naturally resist attacks by the bollworm insect and other pests. The trials began in 2012. It was supposed to last for about six years before the GMO cotton can get to the market.
The trials had proved promising as less pesticides were used on GMO cotton fields in the Northern Region, compared to conventionally produced ones. Whilst cotton farmers have to spray fields up to six times within the cotton plant’s life cycle for conventional varieties, only two cycles of spray was needed on the GMO fields as the seeds had inbuilt resistance to the pests.
Dr. Chamba says farmers are worried they will not get the benefit of growing GMO seeds for a long time to come. “At the moment, we are going back to the conventional variety. Where they have to be spraying (pesticides) several times.
"Nobody wants to spray so many times. But because we have not concluded the experiment, farmers cannot grow that variety,” Dr. Chamba lamented.
Dr. Chamba, however, says they are not giving up. They are looking for fresh donor support to resume the trials in Ghana for the benefit of farmers. “If we can get money from any other place to finish the trial, we will welcome it and finish the trials,” he stated.
GMO cotton was made available to farmers in Burkina Faso in 2010 and by 2013, 70 percent of all cotton grown in that country was GMO. But concerns arose that fibre produced from the GMO cotton was low compared to the conventional.
The cotton fibre resulting from GMO cotton reportedly had shorter length. But in the textiles industry, the length of the fibre is crucial because the longer ones allow for several spinning rounds thereby producing better quality textiles.
The shorter fibre resulting from GMO cotton drew protests from cotton companies in Burkina Faso, resulting in a decision in 2015 for a phased withdrawal of the GMO variety. The cotton companies accused Monsanto of deceit and made a formal request demanding 100 million US Dollars in compensation.
Edwin Baffuor of Food Sovereignty Ghana believes this is a lesson for Ghana not to adopt the technology. “The Burkina case shows clearly that some of the expected outcomes as promised the farmers won’t be realized. And this is part of the red flag that we have been raising for a while now. And it can’t be closer to home than this. The outcomes of GMOs are unknown in the long term,” he told Gakpo in an interview.
Food Sovereignty Ghana is not the first organisation to raise this red flag. Associate Professor at the Department of International Development Studies at Dalhousie University in Canada, Prof. Matthew A. Shnurr who has done extensive research on the impact of GMO crops on African economies, issued a similar caution in the past.
“These problems with poor quality lint resulted from the introgression of the Bt trait into the local variety. If Ghana is planning on replicating this same process, they might risk producing similar results,” he told Joy news.
“I am skeptical that GM cotton or maize will offer benefits to small-scale African farmers,” he added.
But Plant Breeder with Burkina Faso’s National Research Institute Dr. Edgar Traore insists the technology did not fail his people. He says work is ongoing to correct the errors that resulted in the poor fibre quality and get the GMO cotton back on the market.
“The technology is good, but the technology met a technical problem that has a solution. So even [members of] the association which was behind the decision to go back to commercial, they are still waiting for better varieties with longer fibre so they can go back to GMOs,” he told Gakpo.
- By:Super User
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By: DANIEL KENU
The Soil Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SRI) has asked government to factor its research findings into the “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme to ensure that the right plants were planted on the right soil to produce the desired yield.
The institute has zoned the country per its soil texture and structure to guide farmers and investors so that planting will not take place in the wrong soils.
The Director for the Soil Research Institute in Kumasi, Dr. Joseph Opoku Fening, said all government interventions, including the one-district one-factory policy, would need the institute’s assistance to determine which area was suitable for what production.
Dr. Fening was speaking at the inauguration of a $250,000 refurbished analytical laboratory sponsored by the Switzerland Government, through the State Secretary for Economic Affairs (SECO) and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
A number of technicians of the institute were also given training to provide services at the lab.
The upgrade of the CSIR-SRI laboratory by UNIDO through the Trade Capacity Building (TCB) programme for Ghana is part of an ongoing strategy to strengthen the country’s testing laboratories to provide reliable and internationally accepted tests for sustainable value chains for exports.
Dr. Fening said the laboratory was to serve both the private and public sectors and provide an answer to the destroyed water bodies by illegal mining, popularly called ‘galamsey’.
The SRI has the capacity to effectively conduct soil classification, land evaluation, soil fertility management, soil mechanisation and water management, environment and climate change laboratory analytical services.
The Director-General of CSIR, Dr. Victor Agyemang, urged the SRI to commercialise its research findings, especially to the private sector, to enable it raise the needed funding to maintain the equipments.
He said it was time the institute became much more relevant to its surroundings before affecting the entire nation ‘because that’s the way to go’.
The deputy Head of Cooperation of SECO, Mr. Daniel Lauchenauer, expressed the hope that the centre would help to make Ghana’s cocoa production even better for supplies to Swiss chocolate production centres.
The Swiss rely heavily on Ghana’s cocoa for production of chocolate and Mr. Lauchenauer believed the laboratory would boost Ghana’s cocoa industry.
Source: Graphic online
- By:Michael Darko
- Hits: 334
A former Deputy Agriculture Minister is calling for an end to the bastardisation of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) technology as a bad science for food production.
Dr. Ahmed Alhassan Yakubu says GMO technology (broadly referred to as biotechnology) is the latest scientific innovation that is driving food production across the world and Ghana should not sit on the fence as the technology advances.
“It is a science for the present and the future and Ghana cannot afford to miss the boat…We want Ghana to become a great country and the only way it can happen is through science and technology,” Dr. Yakubu stated.
“The peculiarities of Africa and therefore Ghana should let us have a re-think about the negative dirt that we throw at biotechnology as a science. It is extremely important we do so,” he added.
Dr. Yakubu who is also former Member of Parliament for Mion was speaking to Joy News at a training for science reporters from across the West African sub-region on biotechnology organised by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in Accra.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is currently undertaking trials for GMO cowpea and rice as part of regulatory procedures before they are allowed onto the market, most likely in 2018.
But some civil society groups have raised red flags claiming the adoption of GMO crops will bring devastating health, environmental and economic consequences to the country.
But Project Manager in charge of the Open Forum on Agric Biotechnology at AATF Daniel Otunge says that is inaccurate. He insists there is no scientific evidence to back the claims that GMOs are unsafe.
“The European Union conducted 25 years of research on GMOs before commercialisation and another 10 years after they were commercialized and published a report which concluded that there is no effect of this technology on the environment, human beings and live stock.
"Based on that assurance, we say, why shouldn’t Africa also benefit from this beneficial technology,” he stated.
Assistant Director of the National Biotechnology Development Agency in Nigeria Dr. Rose Gidado who spoke at the training noted that increasing yield is the ultimate role of modern agricultural production and scientific innovation is the only way to achieve this, hence the need to adopt biotechnology.
Dr. Emmanuel Chambas who works with the Savannah Agric Research Institute of the CSIR in Tamale noted that with the adoption of GMO technology, it will be possible for farmers to increase yield whilst using even fewer resources.
“Resource poor farmers can still have good yields without fertilizer,” he said.