Charles Afriyie-Debrah, a scientist with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
A scientist with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is urging farmers to accept improved technology as a key tool to help deal with agricultural challenges in the country.
Charles Afriyie-Debrah says problems like pest attack on farms as well as climate change can be dealt with if farmers are open minded to the use of better technology.
Mr. Afriyie Debrah who is Biosafety Officer at the Crop Research Institute of the CSIR was speaking at a training program for farmers at Bunso in the Eastern region on biotechnology application to agriculture and biosafety.
“This GMO technology can be used to introduce genes into crops like cotton to make it resistant to pests. So farmers do not have to spray too many times,” he explained to the farmers.
“This will make us less dependent on government for chemicals to deal with pests on farms. It will help us save money. We would also have no need to spray chemicals which could endanger our health,” he said.
He explained the technology can also be used to increase vitamin A content in foods like rice, make tomato have extended shelve life, among others.
The sensitization programme organised by Alliance for Science Ghana had the objective of sensitizing farmers on the basics of GMO technology and the role it can play in the country’s agricultural sector.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genetic makeup have been altered to introduce beneficial traits including resistance to disease, pests and harsh weather conditions.
Ghana is currently undertaking the trials of two GMO crops following the passage of the National Biosafety Act 2011 to allow for the commercialisation of such products.
The GMO cowpea currently under trials at the Savannah Agric Research Institute in Nyankpala has been modified to resist the deadly bollworm pests which can destroy up to 80 per cent of produce on cowpea fields. It is expected that this
The Nitrogen Efficient, Water Efficient, Salt Tolerant (NEWEST) rice has also been modified to be more efficient in the use of nitrogen and water, and as well be tolerant of salty soils.
Reuben Nana Yaw Quainoo of Alliance for Science Ghana which organised the event in an interview urged the CSIR to speed up the ongoing trials on GMO crops so that they can be made available to farmers soon.
“There should be the deliberate effort on the part of the state to champion the application of technology in Agric. We cannot continue doing things the same way we have done it for all these years and expect different results. The CSIR scientists, they should not delay,” he noted.
“I could hear the farmers asking where are the seeds? Where are the seeds? Let us make the seeds available to them so they take their own decision on whether they want to plant or not,” Mr. Quainoo added.