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Source: myjoyonline. com - The Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen (GNAFF) is accusing parliament of taking its members for a ride over its decision to defer approval of the controversial Plant Breeders’ Bill to 2017.

Vice President of the Association John Awuku Dziwornu says a delay in passing the bill into law is denying farmers the opportunity to make more money from their toil. 
The bill which will allow for breeders of improved crop varieties to earn royalties on their work is aimed at encouraging private sector investment in Agric research. It’s been before the house since 2013. 

Last October, parliament announced the bill will not be passed until next year to allow for further consultation and education.

Majority leader in Parliament Alban Bagbin told the house, “promoters of the Plant Breeders’ bill agree with me that it is something we could properly do next year. So we have not programmed the bill because there is more work to be done to get Ghanaians to understand.”

“We still have key players linking it with GMOs and misinforming members of the public…. so we are working at that… There is more work to be done to get Ghanaians to understand the intent of the bill,” Mr. Bagbin added.

Speaking to Joy news’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo at a meeting of Agric sector players from developing countries in New York State – USA, Mr. Dziwornu described the decision as disappointing. 

“It is a very great disappointment to almost everybody within the sector …with the problems of low yield and others, the plant breeders’ bill will provide an incentive for investors to partner our research stations to deal with farmers’ problems... so if the bill is not passed, then people will not put in money,” he explained. 

A number of Civil Society Groups petitioned parliament last year not to pass the bill claiming it will deny farmers ownership of seeds. This forced the speaker to halt approval procedures and order further consultations.

One of such groups, Food Sovereignty Ghana, argues that “the bill promotes breeders’ rights over and above farmers’ rights, and also promotes formalised cross-border seed trade over farmers’ informal seed exchange systems, threatening farmers’ rights to save, use, share, and sell seeds.”

A group of scientists including Director of the West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI) Prof. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah and former Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Prof. Walter Alhassan Sandow signed a counter petition to the speaker.

They are insisting that “this bill is an important measure to combating poverty in our country. Our farmers desperately need access to improved varieties of our staple crops.” 

Mr Dziwornu insisted all the controversial issues arising from the bill have been thoroughly cleared up with the parliamentarians, and farmers are not happy the house is dragging its feet in approving it. 

“They think farmers are not suffering. They want to take farmers for a ride… They want farmers to be investing heavily in pesticides and seeds that don’t work and there will always be the opportunity for them to go ask our development partners for support as if they are doing something,” Mr. Dziwornu added.


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