Ghana: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research & MoFA outdoors hybrid maize seed production manual

In an effort to boost local production of hybrid maize seed to discourage its importation, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have released a hybrid maize seed production manual.

The 22-page manual was developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) Crop Research Institute (CRI), Kumasi and Savanna Agriculture Research Institute, Nyankpala-Tamale.

This was done to equip seed growers with the requisite skills and resource to efficiently produce the desired quality and quantity required by farmers.

The Manual also addresses the various requirements, practices and day-to-day field operations for a successful hybrid maize seed production.

It could be used by agriculture extension agents, farmers, students and end-users, who want an education in hybrid maize seed production in the different agro-ecological zones of the country.

It was developed by scientists from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Savanna Agriculture Research Institute (CSIR–SARI), Nyankpala and CSIR-Crops Research Institute (CRI), Kumasi.

The Manual was launched at the Agricultural Input Fair and Stakeholder Sensitisation event held in Sunyani and attended by actors in the agricultural value chain to interact and network.

Hybrid maize production in the country has not attracted the expected patronage from farmers, and to catalyse widespread adoption and cultivation of hybrid maize varieties, the Planting for Food and Jobs programme (PFJ) is strategically promoting the use of hybrid maize to enhance farmers’ yields.

Hybrid maize technology is believed to be a prime driver for the entire seed industry and generally, the higher yield potential of hybrids over open-pollinated maize varieties (OPVs) increases the productivity of farmers.

The premium price of hybrid seed and the need for farmers to renew their seed each season keeps the private seed sector vibrant.

However, the Government relies heavily on importation of hybrid seeds for its programmes, partly due to the inability of the local seed systems to produce sufficient quantities for farmers.

One of the major constraints affecting the successful expansion of hybrid maize seed production in the country is the limited number of trained and experienced personnel with the requisite knowledge and skills in hybrid seed production. This necessitated the development of the Manual to transform the sector.

Mr Seth Osei Akoto, Director of Crop Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, who spoke during the launch of the Manual at the Fair in Sunyani, said in the implementation of the PFJ, the country experienced challenges of acquiring hybrid seeds even though it was obvious the hybrid seeds were more productive than OPVs.

Mr Akoto said the country had to rely on the importation of hybrid seeds to satisfy the number of farmers under the PFJ.

He, therefore, was delighted that CSIR-SARI and CSIR-CRI had taken the initiative to develop the Manual, which would go a long way in equipping seed producers with the required knowledge and expertise to produce high quality hybrid seeds for the growing number of farmers on the PFJ.

Mr. Akoto also said the development will not only encourage the use of improve maize seeds in the country but also reduce the country’s import bill as it will become unattractive to import hybrid maize seeds and therefore urged farmers to embrace the manual.

“The adoption of improved hybrid maize seeds has enormous impact on Ghana’s food production. Before the implementation of PFJ, maize productivity was 1.8 metric tonnes per hectare. From 2017 till date, productivity has increased from 1.8 mt to 3.5 mt/ha with open-pollinated variety, while hybrid maize seeds yield is 6 mt/ha. That is why the focus is to encourage farmers to adopt hybrid seeds,” he said.

Dr Gloria Boakyewaa Adu, a Maize Breeder at CSIR-SARI, who was one of the authors of the Manual, expressed gratitude to Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa through the Smallholder Inclusive Productivity (SIPMA) and Market Access for Maize-Soybean Value Chain in selected districts of Bono and Northern Regions project for providing the financial support for the development of the Manual.

Dr Adu also acknowledged the contributions of the SIPMA partners and the various technicians from CSIR-SARI and CSIR-CRI, who in diverse ways, helped to make the manual come out in the best form.

The hybrid maize seed production manual was launched during the opening session of a two-day ‘Agri Inputs Fair and Stakeholder Sensitization’ held under the theme: “Synergies for agricultural transformation through the value chain approach” in Sunyani.

The fair was orgainsed by the ‘Small Holder Inclusive Productivity and Market Access’ (SIPMA) project consortium, MoFA, Crop Life and National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG), with the support of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

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