A new hybrid maize seed with the capacity to increase the country’s present yield per hectare by five folds has been introduced into the system under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme.
Produced in South Africa, the Lake 601 Hybrid Maize Seed has been tried, tested and released by the Varietal Release Committee of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and added to the national seeds catalogue for use in the 2021 planting season.
Ghana’s maize production now stands at a little over three million tonnes per annum, with 1.7 metric tonnes per hectare as the average yield, but this could rise to more than 15 million metric tonnes with the new seed.
Newage Agric Solutions Limited, a Ghanaian agricultural company, took delivery of the maize seed and has commenced distribution to farmers.
The Deputy Director of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the MoFA, Mr Eric Quaye, told the Daily Graphic that Newage Agric Solutions had been given the import permit to bring the Lake 601 Hybrid Maize Seed into the country.
Filling the gap
The General Manager of Newage Agric Solutions, Mr Martin Tettey Nartey, told the paper that the new variety, which “has come at a time when the demand for maize continues to outstrip supply, thereby impacting prices”, was aimed at promoting food security in the country.
He said the new seed variety was expected to help farmers guarantee a good yield, as well as provide jobs for the mass of the people who would venture into maize farming.
He said the Lake 601 Hybrid Maize Seed could produce far higher yields than the normal open-pollinated maize varieties (OPVs) used in the country. That, he said, would help farmers increase their crop productivity and revenues.
Mr Nartey explained that the seed was a resplendent hybrid that was able to perform well in the environment from hot, humid lowlands to dry mid-altitudes and high potential wet highlands.
Again, he said, the variety performed well in all soil types across the country and even performed better in acidic soil with exceptional nitrogen use efficiency (NUE).
“It is also tolerant to Striga, the most dangerous weed to maize. It is the best option for commercial and small farming because the high yield potential is guaranteed when planted,” Mr Nartey said.
He added that although both the new variety and the old OPVs attracted the same labour and cost in cultivation, the hybrids gave far higher yields.
The Chief Executive Officer of Newage Agric Solutions, Mr William Akonnor Kotey, said: “It is important that, as suppliers, we endeavour to make conscious efforts to make such quality products available in a timely manner.
“We are here today, against this background, to satisfy our farmers who need these improved seeds sooner than we think.”