Scientist Calls for Commercialization of GM Cotton in Ghana
By: Philip Tengzu
An Entomologist at the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI), Dr. Jerry Nboyine has called for the commercialisation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in cotton to propel development in north Ghana.
He said the Northern, Upper West and Upper East regions formed the cotton belt of the country and added that the introduction and commercialization of GM cotton could help accelerate economic growth in the area.
Dr Nboyine, who stated this in an interview with Mak News in Wa, explained that the cotton industry in northern Ghana collapsed some years back partly due to the high cost of production culminating from cost of pesticides and other farm inputs.
This, he noted, affected the economic gains of the farmers but said, however, that GM cotton was pest resistant, high yielding and of high quality which could reduce cost of production as well as offer farmers access to international markets.
Currently, Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs are regulated in Ghana with strict laws only permitting confined field trial of GMOs but against its commercialization.
However, Dr. Nboyine was optimistic that commercialization of GM cotton could revitalize the cotton industry in Ghana, especially, the three regions in the north which were well known for being major cotton producers in the 1990s.
Dr. Nboyine observed that the campaign against GM crops in Ghana by some farmers was as a result of misunderstanding of the technology.
He said people confuse GM crop with hybrid crop hence their fear that the technology was an attempt to cease power from farmers into the hands of seed growers.
“Most often when we talk of Bt people confuse the technology with what we call hybrid. For hybrid anytime you want to plant you have to go back to the seed company and buy the seeds from them and come and plant because they are not open pollinated.
But most of the Bt technology that Monsanto was trying to introduce into Africa is open pollinated varieties so when you take that Bt seed and go and plant you can harvest from your field and still go and plant the following year and that protection will still be there”, he explained.
For his part, the Chairman for the National Union of Small Holder Farmers, Mr. Mohammed Adam Nashiru noted that the Upper West Region was a major producer of cotton in the 1990s.
He, however, regretted that cotton farming had gone into the drain in recent times due to lack of market for the cotton as a result of poor quality and lack of government support for the sector.
He therefore called for maximum political will in agriculture especially cotton production to serve as a source of revenue for the government and to better the lives of farmers.