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General News of Sunday, 23 August 2020

Source: GNA

CSO rejects plans to implement Plant Breeders Bill

Some dignitaries at the workshop Some dignitaries at the workshop

The Civil Society Food Sovereignty Platform, a Civil Society in Ghana, has condemned government’s upcoming plans to discuss the implementation of the Plant Breeders Bill (PBB)in the country.

To this end, the CSO which operates within the Savannah Ecological zone urged Parliament to refrain from adopting the Bill since it lacked credibility, legitimacy and was harmful to the country’s Agricultural development.

The platform noted that the country had a good potential to develop a unique system that would suit its needs and develop an effective system for plant variety protection.

It also proposed an agricultural system that promotes food sovereignty and protection of the environment as well as ensures that farmers’ rights and potentials are realized.

The platform made this known in a statement signed by Mr Bernard Guri, the Executive Director of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Development (CIKOD) on behalf of the Platform, at a news conference organized in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, by some of its members.

Mr John Akaribo, the Regional Focal person of the Peasant Farmers Association (PFAG) who read the statement on behalf of members, underscored five reasons why the PBB should be rejected.

“The bill is hostile to small holder farmers in particular and farmers in general because it does not allow farmers to sell and exchange seeds from so-called ‘protected varieties’ as it is heavily tilted in favor of commercial breeders which undermine the rights of farmers”.

Making reference to section 23 of the PBB, the statement indicated that it was directly from the colonizers’ strategy book and that a PBB right shall be independent of any measures taken by the Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and marketing of material of a variety or importation and exportation of the material.

In this regard, “Ghana government has no legal authority over any seed production and marketing firm that deals in improved seed varieties in the country”.

“The Bill undermines biodiversity and food sovereignty as it stifles the ability of farmers in high drought environments to develop drought tolerant seeds.

According to the statement “The Bill is based on the International Union for the Protection of new varieties of plants, UPOV 91 and was designed to strengthen the power of the largest global seed companies and further weaken competition”.

This puts Ghanaian seed companies at a disadvantage in relation to transnational seed companies, it added.

The Platform therefore proposed a Bill that will promote and protect the rights of farmers and indicated that the country needed a farmer’s bill that would include a disclosure of origin, as an important tool to safe guard against bio piracy”.

It urged Parliament to prioritize the development of community –managed seed exchanges and strengthen all existing community managed mechanisms for seed exchanges and sales.

Ms Anita Sutha of the Rural Women Farmers Association of Ghana (RUWFAG) stressed that the PBB disrupted the traditional way of life and work of farmers and above all impacted negatively on the elements of agro- ecology that promotes exchange of seeds and knowledge sharing.

Ms Sutha added that as rural women farmers with limited resources for farming, the focus of the PBB will affect women farmers negatively since indigenous seed varieties in communities were still vibrant for use and more suitable for the climate.