WACCI calls for targeted investments in the agricultural sector

The West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI) called for targeted investments in local genetic innovation and the development of a robust seed system.

WACCI said an investment of approximately $50 million in the organization will lead to the sustainable development of innovations for self-sufficiency in food production, job creation, poverty reduction and improved livelihoods. livelihoods, as well as socio-economic development.

Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, Director of WACCI during a media engagement, said that with the right investments and support for the development of resilient, nutritious, productive and market-oriented staple crop varieties, they could be scaled up. to meet import demands in West and Central Africa. sub-region and beyond.

“What we are asking for today are investments in the seed systems of the country’s major staple crops for food and nutrition security and socio-economic development,” he said.

This will also help to drastically reduce seed and food imports which amount to about US$2.7 billion.

Professor Danquah said that with adequate funding, the center would undertake innovative and cutting-edge impact-oriented research that would result in relevant and quality knowledge on rice, maize, sorghum, tomato, soybeans, cowpeas, cassava and the Frafra potato to develop high-value climate intelligence. varieties, while committing to capacity building through targeted training, experiential learning and skill building at all career stages.

WACCI would engage youth, farmers, value chain actors, policymakers and other stakeholders in the use of agricultural innovations for food and nutrition security, socio-economic development and also equip youth with knowledge and skills necessary for the development of UPS.

Professor Danquah said that over the years, the Ghana Living Standards Survey Report indicates that Ghana’s agricultural sector underpins the country’s economic growth and has been the main source of income, especially for the rural poor and other vulnerable households.

The agricultural sector, which contributes about 20% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs nearly half of the workforce, is characterized by low yields of staple crops.

Professor Danquah said that due to yield gaps, Ghana remains a net importer of raw and processed foods to meet the demand of a growing population characterized by a high rate of urbanization and rising incomes.

Between 2019 and 2020, a 3.5-4% increase in the area cultivated for cassava, maize and rice resulted in a yield increase of only 0.7%, 2% and 1.8% respectively .

“It is therefore obvious that expanding cropland is not an efficient way to increase productivity, but rather investments in the development of locally adapted high-yielding varieties,” he said.

Professor Danquah said it is in this context that WACCI is proposing targeted investments in local genetic innovation and the development of a robust seed system for selected crops.

He said Ghana’s seed systems require rigorous mechanisms regarding the development, dissemination and performance of seed varieties, seed quality inspection as well as certification and access to breeder seed.

Farmers’ access to timely information, seed prices and subsidies, as well as consumer protection would go a long way to improving food yields and the country’s sustainability, he added.

Professor Danquah said targeted investments combined with healthy soil, nutrients, water and good agronomic practices would contribute to Ghana’s agricultural transformation agenda and also improve food and nutrition security.

Lana T. Arthur