Professor Paul K. Kimurto, the Director of the Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils at Egerton University, has stated that African countries need an effective and efficient seed system to develop the right seed to suit the unpredictable rainfall pattern resulting from climate change.
The Director of the Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils at Egerton University opined that across the continent, countries are witnessing shorter rainfall and a long drought period that is affecting rain-fed crop production.
Prof Kimurto noted that many countries do not have well-functioning seed systems, explaining that such a situation does not support the continent’s quest for food security amidst the climate crisis.
“Majority of farmers on the continent still rely on saved seeds to sow during planting season. Studies have also shown that a farmer’s ability to get a good yield partly depends on the planting materials. It is a double challenge because aside from the seed problem, the planting and harvesting period of such planting materials is not favourable to the changing weather patterns, thereby reducing yields.”Professor Paul K. Kimurto
The establishment of a functioning seed system, Prof Kimurto said, would harmonize the activities of value chain actors, including farmers, agriculture extension officers, and researchers on existing seed varieties and potential assortments to fit the changing climate.
Development of Drought-Tolerant Crops
Prof Kimurto averred that a robust seed system would spur the development of drought-tolerant crops, especially cereals, and legumes which play a crucial role in mitigating the effects of climate change. He stated that African leaders needed to focus some attention on putting in place the right environment and structures to ensure the penetration of telecommunication services to support electronic extension in rural areas.
That, he said, would facilitate the dissemination of climate-smart technologies to rural farmers to enable them to learn and practice sustainable farming and boost production.
Professor Paul K. Kimurto, made this known at a meeting on drought-tolerant crops in East and West Africa, in Accra, Ghana. The meeting sought to review the progress made towards a common vision and co-design of regional crop improvement programs.
Meanwhile, in Ghana, the effect of the rampaging climate change has presented a considerable challenge to the socioeconomic development of the country where rain-fed agriculture provides livelihoods to millions of households. This environmental dilemma has dire repercussions for the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those relating to poverty reduction and food security.
Towards reversing the trend, the Alliance of Biodiversity International, in collaboration with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, has implemented an agricultural development project to help more than 100 crop farmers in the Central Region get access to critical information needed to improve their work.
The project, known as the Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA), seeks to make climate information services and climate-smart agriculture more accessible to small-scale farmers across Africa for optimal health outcomes for people, animals, and plants.
The GHC6 million three-year project, which began in 2021, is geared towards limiting the use of inorganic chemicals on farmlands while encouraging bio-friendly products.
Currently, Ghana’s maize production 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 climate-resistant seed.
Ghana has a national seed policy as well as a trade association, called the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana. In 2011, the country passed a biosafety law, which led to field testing a range of genetically modified crops. In 2016, Ghana ratified the ECOWAS-UEMOA-CILSS Regulations and has initiated the National Seed Plan, which defined 10 priority projects that, if implemented, will catalyze the orderly growth of the seed sector.
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