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Regional News Mon, 27 Jun 2005

French government supports research into coconut disease

Accra, June 27, GNA - French Government on Monday committed 1.290 million euros to the implementation of a three-year research project into tree and food crops cultivation with emphasis on coconut in Ghana. Mr Pierre Jacquemot, French Ambassador, signed an agreement on behalf of his government, whilst Ms Christine Churcher, Minister of Environment and Science, signed on behalf of the beneficiary agencies under the Ministry.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Crop Research Institute, Ghana Atomic Energy and Molecular Biology Laboratory are some of the agencies to benefit from the project dubbed: "Agronomical Research in Ghana the field of Tree and Food Crops". The project would focus on the control of "Cape Saint Paul Wilt", a disease, which destroys coconut plantations, especially along the

coast. Ms Churcher said the disease was destroying the livelihood of the people, leading to poverty. "The Government of Ghana, therefore, regards research into this crop very critical to help reduce poverty in the rural areas where coconut has been their main source of livelihood," she said. Ms Churcher recalled that France had released 50,000 euros for the provision of equipment and other facilities to run a Molecular Biology Laboratory in Takoradi, adding: "This has resulted in the identification of a coconut hybrid which is tolerant to Cape Saint Paul Wilt disease." Ghana had established a seed garden to enable her to replant about 1,000 hectares per year in the areas devastated by the disease.

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Ms Churcher said the Government urgently needed financial and technical assistance to be able to make a breakthrough in the control of the disease that seemed elusive to scientists. She expressed the need to produce disease-free materials such as plantain, cassava and pineapple through biotechnology.

Professor Emmanuel Owusu Bennoah, Director-General of CSIR, said coconut in Ghana was under threat with the disease and commended the French Government for their assistance to fight the disease and to improve quality of life and reduce poverty. He said research scientists in Ghana were ever prepared to cooperate and "all what we need is the support in the form of resources, materials and other logistics.

Source: GNA
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