General News of Friday, 3 August 2018
Director of Biotechnology and Nuclear Agricultural Research Institution, Professor Kenneth Ellis Danso, has suggested that Ghana may have to start looking at using genetic modifications in crops to address the devastation caused by fall armyworms.
Before that is done, Professor Danso has advised farmers to abide by the directions by their agriculture extension officers on how to manage the fall armyworm infestations on their farms. He called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to work effectively with the district and regional offices to help the farmers manage the infestation with timely information.
Currently, many hectors of farms have been infested by fall armyworms in many communities in the savannah ecological area (especially the Northern and Upper East Regions). Even though large quantities of agro-chemicals meant to fight the worms have been distributed through the district MoFA offices, many more farms and crops are being affected despite the application of these agro-chemicals.
The fall armyworms live deep inside the leaves of the crops and they mainly attack maize, millet, sorghum, etc.
Professor Kenneth Ellis Danso said the fall armyworms had come to stay therefore MoFA would have to engage scientists and agricultural research institutions to start searching for how to use biotechnology to address the issue.
Professor Danso was speaking at a one-day training held in Bolgatanga for some journalists in the Upper East Region on how to effectively report on issues bordering on Agricultural Biotechnology.
The training programme was organized by the Ghana Chapter of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB). It was under the theme: “Exemplary Journalism, Credible Science Reporting and Better Public Understanding of Science Technology and Innovation”.
OFAB Ghana is a member of OFAB Africa Group, which aims at creating awareness on biotechnology and genetically modified organisms in Africa. In Ghana, the project is hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Professor Danso noted that the time has come for Ghana to start modifying some of its staple and cash crops to increase yields and also get these crops to withstand some of the diseases that farmers have been fighting against every year.
In his view, genetically modified and high-disease or drought-resistant crops would make farming a lucrative business due to the ability of the crops to yield more than the regular version, and farmers would not have to spend more resources to fight diseases, thereby making money.
He believes that investing in genetically modified crops is a sure way of ensuring food security in Ghana and sustaining it for generations.