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Ghana Agricultural News Digest – December 15, 2014

2014 December 15
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by Gladys Baaba Arhin

Below are some current developments on Agriculture in Africa:

Agricultural Issues
Symposium for GMOs Adoption in Accra
A policy symposium on the need to collate views to push forward the adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) by Ghana was held in Accra on Wednesday. The symposium was on the theme; “Accepting or Not Accepting GMOs; implications for sustainable food production in Ghana.” Organized by Developing Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa, ISSER, DFID, Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, (MOFA). It attracted scientists, research analysts in the area of food and agriculture. The symposium which was meant to discuss issues both for and against GMO saw only majority of participants who are in support of GMO taking part. Dr Hans Adu Dapaah, Former Director Crops Research Institute (CRI) said there is no credible evidence that GM foods are more harmful than non-GM foods.

Ghana Develops GM cowpea
Ghana has successfully developed a genetically modified cowpea (beans), referred to as Bt cowpea. Developed by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) at Nyankpala in the Northern Region, the Bt cowpea will be the first GM crop/food to be introduced in Ghana. It is resistant to the Maruca pod borer, an insect/pest that destroys the conventional type of cowpea, the 'Songotra ' thereby causing farmers to lose substantial portions of their investment/income. SARI, which is implementing the Bt cowpea project in the country, is to embark on the multiplication of the seeds of the Bt cowpea in commercial quantities next year for distribution to farmers for planting in the three northern regions.

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Ghana Agricultural News Digest – December 9, 2014

2014 December 9
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Below are some current developments on Agriculture in Africa:

Agricultural Issues
30th Farmer’s Day Celebration; An Important Event
Three decades of the celebration of an event is not a mean feat. That the Farmer’s Day celebration is an important event on the national calendar is demonstrated by the fact that it has survived different governments that have directed the affairs of Ghana. Farmer’s Day was instituted by a military government, the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) in 1985. The first and second governments of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which took over the reins of the administration of Ghana from 1993 to 2001 continued with the celebration. In the same vein, the first and second governments of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which handled the affairs of Ghana from January 2001 to January 2009 kept alive the celebration of the farmer’s day….

Sefwi Wiawso Hosts 30th Farmers Day
The 30th edition of the National Farmer’s Day celebration comes off at the Sefwi Wiawso College of Education park in the Western Region on Friday, December 5, 2014, where 70 farmers, including the national best, will be rewarded for their hard work. The President, Mr. John Mahama, is expected to grace the occasion, alongside members of government, Members of Parliament (MPs), traditional authorities, Members of the Council of State, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, the clergy and religious bodies, assembly members, political party representatives as well as representatives of civil society and non- governmental organizations, among other invited dignitaries. The National Farmer’s Day, which is celebrated every first Friday in the month of December, was instituted in 1985 by the Government of Ghana to honour the gallant farmers and fishermen of Ghana for their hard work.

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Ghana Agricultural News Digest – December 1, 2014

2014 December 1
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Below are some current developments on Agriculture in Africa:

Agricultural Issues
Plant Breeders Bill Suffers Setback- Food Sovereignty of Ghana (FSG)
Food Sovereignty of Ghana (FSG), has observed that the move by International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) - compliant Plant Breeders Bill (PBB), has suffered a major setback. FSG, an advocacy movement dedicated towards the promotion of people’s right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable says: “This is a significant victory given the level of push back our campaign received from the MPs (members of parliament) and the entire apparatus of state of the Mahama Administration. This does not mean the end of the story. The real struggle for a sensible law now begins.”… “We would like to see in any future bill, a clear statement of farmers’ rights and absence of any form of criminalisation of farmers…

Is Ghana in Search of Sustainable Agriculture?
With the spotlight now on the critical issue of climate change due to global warming, it has become highly imperative to critically examine the issues of food security, and evaluate our agricultural practices in Ghana. There is the controversial issue of the Plant Breeders’ Bill relating to accepting Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or scientifically engineered seeds in Ghana. The bill seems to have been laid to rest after much media kerfuffle. What is essential is to consider the bio-ethics and the sustainability of such ‘cloned’ seeds. Many eye-brows have been raised against the impropriety of such underhand methods of the foreign proponents of GMOs, because they seek to create a dependency syndrome with high economic and financial implications so that we have no capacity to….

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Ghana Agricultural News Digest – November 24, 2014

2014 November 24
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by Gladys Baaba Arhin

Below are some current developments on Agriculture in Africa:

Agricultural Issues
Shea butter Industry Offers Employment to African Women
Shea butter is one of nature's wonders, and a special one at that. It has been used for millennia by many generations of African people for skincare, baby care, healing and food. The shea butter industry employs about 10 million women in rural communities in 21 countries across Africa, contributing to the economic growth of the respective countries. In Ghana, the shea nuts are traditionally harvested mainly by women in the northern part of the country, crushed and boiled to extract the shea butter. In the hot Sahara or Savannah, shea butter protects the skin from the sun and dehydration. What makes shea butter an extraordinary skincare product and an amazing body healer is its richness in precious constituents, which include unsaturated fats….

Post-harvest Losses High – Study
Almost half of food crops produced in the country does not make it to the final consumer, a study on post-harvest losses in the country has revealed. The research sponsored by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) was conducted in 2013 by The Urban Association Limited (TUAL) on post-harvest losses of selected food crops in 11 African countries. According to the report, as much as 60 percent of Yam produced in Ghana, for instance, does not make it to the consumer. The study said the level of losses occurring in maize production, for instance, ranges between 5-70 percent while between 11-27 percent of rice cultivated never makes it to the consumer.

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Ghana Agricultural News Digest – November 17, 2014

2014 November 17
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Below are some current developments on Agriculture in Africa:

Agricultural Issues
Initiative Boosts Cocoa Productivity
More than 32,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana and other West African countries are now reducing the impact of pests and plant diseases on their cocoa crop. This has become possible through a joint programme by CropLife Africa Middle East and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) which trains a small group of select farmers to become Spray Service Providers (SSPs). SSPs are professionals who are able to identify pests, provide advice on their management and, when needed, properly apply crop protection products on cocoa farms. The programme is part of the WCF African Cocoa Initiative (ACI), a public-private partnership sponsored by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF). The initiative aims to double productivity for 100,000 cocoa farm households and raise farmer incomes by 150-200 per cent by 2016.

Cocoa Farmers Urged to Adopt Good Practices
The Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Mr. Gilbert Anim Oppong has urged cocoa farmers to adopt good farming practices to increase their yields. He made the call when the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr. Antwi-Bosiako Sekyere visited the institute as part of his tour of Fanteakwa District and the East Akim Municipality. Mr. Oppong explained that, capsid (Akate) and black pod diseases are the major challenges facing cocoa farmers. He said to prevent akate from destroying the cocoa, farmers must build an overhead shades on the farms. Mr. Oppong suggested that, apart from the use of fungicides as a preventive method, good agronomic practices is the sure way to boost cocoa production and maintain the farm for a long period.

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