The Faculty of Agriculture of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG), are working to introduce high-yielding hybrid seed maize varieties to farmers.
In line with this, a 10-day capacity building course on hybrid maize seed production and marketing has been held for 20 members of NASTAG in Kumasi, to equip them with the best techniques in producing genetically pure hybrid seed.
The event is part of an agenda by the collaborative body to increase the marketability and accessibility of the crop variety to farmers and other maize value chain players, to upscale maize production in the country.
It is receiving technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Professor Ben K. B. Banful, Dean of the Faulty, said certified seed of highly productive crop varieties, was an important factor for increasing crop productivity and production in farmer's fields.
He said the move is aimed at reversing the current situation in the Ghana seed industry, bedeviled with continued domination of old Opened-Pollinated Varieties (OPVs), which were non-uniform, less productive and less tolerant to biotic and abiotic stresses.
"The use of hybrids are being encouraged worldwide due to its uniformity and stability in yield, disease and pest tolerance as well as its ability to out-yield the OPVs by 20-30 per cent" Professor Banful said.
He said the private seed enterprises have not been able to take advantage of them because of lack of capacity in the production and marketing of the hybrid seeds which required special management and skills for achieving quality production.
Professor Richard Akromah, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and Lead Facilitator of the training, underlined the need for farmers to embrace hybrid seeds to increase yields.
He said farming is not about cultivating huge acres of land but how to maximize the available space however small, by adhering to best practices and using the right planting materials such as hybrid seeds, for higher yields.
Professor Akromah urged the participants to implement the knowledge acquired to produce more hybrid seeds not only to grow their businesses but also ensure availability and affordability for farmers, adding that, they could always count on the faculty for advice.
Mr Richard Twumasi Ankrah, a representative of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Secretariat at MoFA, commended all the stakeholders for the training which was critical to the success of the PFJ.
He assured them of the Secretariat's commitment to convince the farmers to patronize the hybrid seeds.
Mr Thomas Havor, President of NASTAG, said the PFJ was targeting a 50 per cent increase in the supply of hybrid seeds to farmers in the next farming season and urged members of the Association to explore the opportunity to maximize profit.