Genetically Modified products will lead to extinction of indigenous seeds – PFAG

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The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has reemphasized its caution to the government that the commercialisation Genetically Modified (GM) products in Ghana, would lead to extinction of the country’s indigenous seeds and food insecurity. 

It would also throw smallholder farmers out of business.

The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) recently approved the commercialisation of 14 new varieties of GM products in maize and soya beans, however, the farmers have kicked against the move to promote the agenda of the multinational seed companies.

However, has reiterated its stance against the government’s interest to approve GM products, saying: “We reject that, particularly permit given by the NBA for some people to bring GM products.”

Speaking at the Inaugural Peasant Farmers Day Celebration held at Navrongo in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality of the Upper East Region, Mr Wepia Awal Adugwala, President, PFAG, said the move would not only lead to the loss of indigenous seed varieties but would lead to the country relying on foreign companies for seeds.

“We cannot sit in Ghana and allow foreign companies to control the seeds that we grow in this country…so, we reject that, particularly permit given by the NBA for some people to bring GM products,” he said.

The President explained that the various indigenous seeds in Ghana were some of the high quality and healthier seeds across Africa and there was the need to invest strategically to improve those seeds instead of importing GM products which had the tendency to destroy the agriculture sector.

“We are saying that whatever support the government has for us, it should be directed to our scientists in Ghana like the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) that can breed our traditional varieties and improve upon them for our farmers to grow the seeds so that we the indigenous farmers will continuous to have control of what we eat and not to be determined by anybody,” he added.

Mr Adugwala noted that challenges of the agriculture sector especially those adversely affecting the smallholder farmers were not of the varieties but other challenges including lack of market for produce, high cost of production due to increase in prices of inputs and mechanisation services, among others.

He said even though the smallholder farmers had not received any form of support from the government since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic particularly in 2021 which led to global drop in the production of fertilizer, the farmers on their own had been able to produce enough to feed the country.

The President insisted that instead of granting permission for GM products to be commercialised in Ghana, the government should create viable markets for food produced locally to keep the farmers in business.

“If you look at the last farming season for instance, the smallholders have been able to produce enough rice and maize but there is no market for them and right now our farmers are depending on Togolese and Burkinabes to come inside the country and buy the maize,” he lamented.

Dr Charles Nyaaba, Chief Executive Officer, Akuafo Nketewa, Business Unit of the PFAG, noted that most of the smallholder farmers that the government flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs was meant for, did not benefit from the project due to unfair distribution.

He said it was expected that the Planting for Food and Jobs phase II would directly benefit the smallholder farmers and apart from the inputs, there should be credit opportunities for farmers to access to increase productivity.

The celebration was organised by the PFAG in collaboration with the Akuafo Nketewa and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture on the theme; “deepening the role of smallholder farmers in promoting food and nutrition security in the midst of climate change and global crisis.”

By Anthony Adongo Apubeo, GNA

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