A three-day workshop aimed at establishing efficient and sustainable conservation of four crops in West Africa has been held in Accra.
The workshop, organised by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in collaboration with the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT), was meant to increase access to yam, pearl millet, sorghum and cowpea by breeding different varieties and conserving them.
Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology in a speech read on her behalf said those food crops were important as far as food security on Ghana was concerned and across West Africa.
She said even though research had made great strides in developing improved varieties of those crops it was imperative that the genetic diversity of these crops be maintained for posterity.
Ms Ayittey said it was in that direction that government attached great importance to the project on collection and conservation of crops that were threatened.
She said such conserved food crops could later be used by farmers and breeders of crop varieties in the future to sustain their presence.
She also expressed the need to reverse the loss of natural resources since any development goals would be difficult to achieve without them.
“Recent studies of global environmental change conclude that the poor suffer most as a consequence of environmental decline,” the minister said.
She also said one of the principal cause which may lead to the failure to meet the Millennium Development Goals on environmental targets would include poor governance of natural resources at the national and local level.
Giving the context and objective of the workshop the scientific co-ordinator of Global Crop Diversity Trust, Luigi Guarino, presented the goal of the Global System Project as the need to create a rational, effective, efficient and sustainable global system for conserving diversity and making it available to breeders, researchers and farmers.
Mr Guarino said that now there was general need to show how to increase the impact of the project, how to enhance linkages between genebank and breeders, how to make more use of material that is kept in genebanks and how to increase accessibility of conserved material.
The scientific consultant of Global Crop Diversity Trust, Michela Paganini pointed out that two success stories which would be discussed at the workshop, and emphasized that it was important to evaluate and to learn the lesson not only from success, but also from what was going wrong.
Presenting the pearl millet pilot activities in Ghana as one of the success stories she gave recommendations as to how to discuss about need to multiply some varieties for wider distribution and about regional collaboration that could be of help.
Ms Paganini also mentioned the second successful project on better knowledge of existing yam diversity and farmers needs in Togo.
This project, should be expanded in Ghana, Mali and Nigeria and possible be useful to national programmes, she said.
She summarized the final steps of the Global System Project: integration of validated results and recommendations into a regional plan, publications of national a regional plans through national programmes websites, use the plans to foster advancement and as basis to develop project proposals, substantiation of plant genetic resources conservation and use fund raising.