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Ghana does not need GMO food, says agriculture minister

Staff Writer | March 14, 2019
Ghana does not need genetically modified organism (GMO) to ensure food sufficiency and security, as the knowledge it has accumulated in the discovery of improved seeds can boost food production, Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said.
Owusu Afriyie Akoto
Africa   Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto
Dr Akoto said this while answering questions on the issue of GMO in relation to improved seeds to champion the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative from a team of World Food Programme (WFP) officials in Accra.

The team comprised the country directors of the WFP from19 African countries and the head office of the programme in Rome.

The senior officials of the WFP are in the country for its bi-annual meeting which normally brings together country directors of the WFP in Western and Central Africa to share experiences and best practices.

The country directors, who are in the country for a four-day meeting, wanted to learn more about Ghana’s agricultural sector, especially the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative and how Ghana could share its best practices with other African countries.

Dr Akoto said the Ghanaian scientific community and academia had done a lot of work on improved varieties of grains, which had been left on the shelves because previous governments did not utilise them to improve agriculture in the country.

Describing GMO as a controversial subject, he told the WFP country managers that a section of Ghanaian society was seriously against it “and, indeed, we don’t need it”, explaining that what the country had in terms of improved seeds was sufficient.

He said the scientific community had researched into and currently registered over 58 different varieties of grains which could yield 10 times what ordinary grains could.

For instance, he said, an acre of traditional grains yielded four bags, while the same land size of the improved seeds could yield as many as 40 bags.

Dr Akoto said currently only 11 per cent of Ghanaian farmers patronised the improved seeds and fertiliser, adding that even with that the country could boast food sufficiency and was currently exporting grains to neighbouring countries.

For instance, he said, more than 100,000 tonnes of about seven different food crops were exported to neighbouring countries last year.