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Business News Thu, 26 Jun 1997

Germany Pprovides Funds West African Seed Project

Fumesua (Ash), June 23, - The German Government has provided 2.5 million Deutsche Marks for the first phase of a three-year seed production and marketing programme in West Africa. There will be another three-year programme from 1999 to sustain the first phase of the 1996-98 project which aims at improving the standard of living of farmers through improved seed for increased production. The project "Promotion of Seed Production and Marketing in West Africa" based at the Seed Unit of the Crops Research Institute (CRI) at Fumesua-Ashanti, is being implemented by the International Institute for Tropical Agricultural (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria. This was announced by Dr A. J. G. Van Gastel, the Project Co-ordinator, at an international training course on seed marketing at the CRI at Fumesua, in Ashanti, today. The two-week course, being attended by Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal and Mali, is to equip 20 participants with the skills for marketing improved seed varieties. Dr Gastel said it has been realised that growth in agriculture in Africa ''depends to a large extent on the successful introduction and use of new technologies. "These are quality seed, genetically pure, free from diseases, has good germination and vigour, and offers the highest economic and social returns''. Dr Gastel noted that in Africa, the use of traditional varieties is still prevalent, while seed production and marketing is often affected by inadequate policies, poor managerial skills, lack of trained manpower and lack of facilities. He called for sustained support for the seed production sector to ensure that food production does not deteriorate any further. The Project Co-ordinator stressed the importance of skilful marketing in order to get the farming communities to use improved materials. "Increase in the use of high yielding crop varieties through wider farmer use of improved seed will ultimately lead to better incomes and improved standard of living and increased national agricultural production", he added. ''Well-designed and properly implemented seed marketing systems backed by a production system that produces quality seed, is the key to success'', he added. Mr Isaac Kwakwa-Sarpong, Ashanti Regional Director of Food and Agriculture who opened the course, called for effective marketing to sustain the seed production sector.

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