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Reports by the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS 2023) indicate that 258 million people in 58 countries around the globe faced acute food insecurity in 2022.

The figure shows an increase of 34 per cent compared to 2021, indicating agricultural households constituted up to two-thirds of the people living in extreme poverty worldwide.

Under current trends, 575 million people will still be living in extreme poverty in 2030, implying no progress on goal 2.1 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The global goals 2.1 targets are to “end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and vulnerable people, including infants, to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food all year round by 2030.”

Madam Justina Owusu-Banahene, the Bono Regional Minister who revealed the content of the Report, said it suggested the need for the nation to be proactive and respond swiftly to save the situation.

She was addressing the opening session of a day’s seminar on seed development organized by the AAG in collaboration with the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), another NGO and the University of Energy and Natural Resources at Sunyani.

The seminar which was attended by indigenous smallholder women farmers and seeds producers, was in line with AAG’s Strategic Priority One (SP) of its current Country Strategic Paper (CSP VII) that sought to ensure Green Economy and Resilience Livelihoods.

It was on the theme: “Achieving food sovereignty: the role of indigenous seed development in Ghana,” and aims at calling for commitment to protect indigenous seeds by highlighting their value and contribution to bolstering Ghana’s food system’s resilience against shocks from climate change.

“Statistics point to the fact that the number of people facing hunger and food insecurity has risen since 2015, and the situation has worsened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and growing inequalities”, the Regional Minister stated.

Madam Owusu-Banahene said it was crucial for the sustainability of the country’s agriculture which remained the backbone of the nation’s economy and provided livelihoods for a significant portion of the population.

She observed that the challenges the country faced in achieving food sovereignty were multifaceted and ranged from climate change impacts to dependence on foreign seeds, which could be both costly and less adaptable to local conditions.

This is where the development and promotion of indigenous seed development play a critical role, saying indigenous seed remained a vital part of the nation’s agricultural heritage.

“They are uniquely adapted to our local environments, resilience to pests and diseases, and as well contribute to the biodiversity that sustains our ecosystem”, she said, adding by investing in, and promoting the use of indigenous seeds, the country could not only make farmers self-reliant but also produce healthy and nutritious food that met the needs of the population.

Achieving food sovereignty through indigenous seed development requires a multifaceted approach, including research and development, policy support, education and awareness, market access, collaboration and partnerships.

Madam Owusu-Banahene underscored the importance for the nation to invest in research to identify, preserve, and improve indigenous seed varieties, noting that it involved both scientific research and the incorporation of traditional knowledge from farmers who had cultivated these seeds for generations.

Regarding policy support, the role of government is important in creating and implementing policies and programmes that support the conservation, and use of indigenous seed banks, supporting farmer cooperatives, and ensuring that farmers have access to quality seeds.

Mr. Justin Bayor, the Head of Programmes, Campaign and Innovations, AAG warned that any decision to lift restrictions on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods will pose significant risks to national food security, biodiversity, and the well-being of vulnerable communities.

He expressed concern about the ramifications of the government’s approval for the commercialization of 14 genetically modified organism (GMO) foods in the country.

He said having witnessed firsthand the numerous benefits of indigenous farming, he acknowledged the importance of agroecology, a farming approach rooted in ecological processes to agricultural development and employment in the country.

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