A four-day workshop on the review of Ghana’s Seed Regulatory Framework in consonance with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Seed Regulation and Updating of National Quarantine Pest List ended on Thursday in Accra.
The workshop which brought together stakeholders and agricultural practitioners and policy seed experts from Ghana and some West African Countries was aimed at reviewing Ghana’s Seed Regulatory Framework to match with the ECOWAS regulation.
The workshop was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development/West Africa Seed Program (USAID/WA), USAID-Agriculture Policy Support Project and West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program.
Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in-charge of Crops, noted that despite the progress made over the last five years, Ghana’s seed systems still fell short of meeting the task at hand of supplying most Ghanaian smallholder farmers with high quality, appropriate and improved seed at affordable prices.
He said Government in 2010 approved a new Seed Act, to replaced the 1972 Seed Decree to liberalizing basic seed production and that the new act complies with the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) and the International Plant Protection Convention to promote easy free trade.
Dr Alhassan said seed companies in Ghana could freely produce their own seeds and have access to an ISTA-accredited laboratory, which many ECOWAS countries’ governments have recognized as the fundamental importance of sustainable seed production systems in contributing to increased agricultural production.
He said Governments in the ECOWAS region currently employed different policies, laws, regulations, and procedures to promote and regulate the seed sector.
The Deputy Minister who is also the Member of Parliament for Mion in the Northern Region stated that considerable progress has been made in the harmonization of seed policies within the East and Central African (ECA) Region, which allowed the length of the variety release period to be reduced from three or more years to only two seasons.
He noted that this has greatly improved the availability of improved seed varieties and increased private sector participation in the variety release process and that many countries were now drafting new or revising existing legislation and regulations in the light of current developments to meet the requirements of the international seed trade.
“In Ghana, we have in place a seed law as in the Plant and Fertilizer Act, 2010 (Act 803) and a draft seed regulation “certification and standards” which the Attorney General’s Department has advised to be aligned with the ECOWAS Seed Regulation”.
Dr Alhassan said the 60th Ordinary Session of the Council of Agricultural Ministers of ECOWAS countries gazette of ECOWAS seed regulation C/REG.4/O5/2008 in 2008 was agreed that ECOWAS regulation on harmonization of the rules governing quality control, certification and marketing of plant seeds and seedlings in the ECOWAS region be published in Member States and should enter into force upon its publication as stated by article 88 of the regulation.
“Article 88 again states that the purpose of the Regulation is to harmonize the rules governing quality control, certification and marketing of plant seeds and agricultural plants in Member States and harmonization is intended to ensure availability of good quality seeds and determine the origin of seeds plant species and varieties listed in the West African Catalogue as defined in Article 9 of the Regulation”.
He said the harmonization is also to facilitate local production of quality seeds, facilitate trade in seeds amongst Member States, through application of regionally agreed principles and rules that minimize trade barriers, facilitate timely and convenient access by farmers to quality seeds, create a climate propitious for private investment in the seed industry, widen the choice of seeds available to farmers and promote partnership between the public and private sectors.
Mr Emmanuel Asante Krobea, Director of Service at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said the availability of quality seeds to farmers at the right time was important.
He said the list of quarantine pests was key to the success of seed trade across the sub-region.
Mr Krobea stressed the need for the outcome of the workshop to improved quality seed production and supply in Ghana in conformity with the ECOWAS regulation.
Mr Kwaku Owusu-Bar, Senior Policy/Institutional Development Advisor, USAID-Agriculture Policy Support Project said the workshop was key to the Ghanaian seed producers and farmers and expressed the hope that the impact it would make would be beneficial to the participants.