The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has introduced new pest-resistant cotton varieties within the savannah ecological zones to improve production of the cash crop to feed the textile industry.
The new pest-resistant cotton varieties — Round Up Flex (RRF) is a trait tolerant to glyphosate and the Roundup Ready Flex/Bollgard 2 herbicides — are also tolerant to glyphosate in addition to offering insect protection, and are those currently being tried for the farmers.
The Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) cotton, which is able to withstand insect protection trials in the three northern regions, is aimed at revamping the cotton industry to feed the textile industries and enhance the economy.
The new varieties, which were introduced in partnership with Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), are expected to produce high-quality cotton so as to revamp the cotton industry which employs a lot of people in the northern sector.
Some farmers who spoke to the B&FT said the new varieties will help them produce cotton to boost the country’s textile industry, and also generate revenue for government through exports.
The farmers are eager to access the seeds for cultivation after being sensitised and taken through field demonstrations on the best agricultural practices, and urged SARI to make the seeds accessible and affordable for them.
They therefore called on the National Bio-Safety Authority to hasten its investigations to approve release of the new varieties to help farmers access them for the next season.
The farmers spoke to B&FT at an open field-day for farmers and stakeholders, held at Nyankpala in the Northern Region by the CSIR-SARI in collaboration with Monsanto of Burkina Faso.
The event was aimed at observing and evaluating the performance of Roundup Ready herbicides on cotton varieties under the Ghana Cotton Growing Environment.
It was also to determine the effectiveness of the two glyphosate formulations on weeds when applied on the two genetically modified (GM) cotton varieties tolerant to glyphosate and protection.
Dr. Emmanuel Chamba, Principal Investigator CSIR-SARI, said farmers who adapt to the new technology will increase their yields.
He noted that the institute is embarking on the new varieties’ trials in the three northern regions of the country to ascertain the product’s quality.
According to him, samples have been sent to the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and the National Bio-Safety Authority (NBA) for approval, and when done will be commercialised to farmers.
He said the trials are being undertaken to ensure that all the safety precautions are observed to avoid any negative impact on the environment.
According to Dr. Chamba, while trying the BT cotton seeds “We sprayed the BT cotton two times only as compared to the six times we did for the non-BT (conventional) cotton.
“So with the BT, it was proven how farmers can cut down their spraying cost; how they will also reduce the impact of the chemicals on their environment; and again how farmers will be able to save time.”
He said the CSIR-SARI is committed to undertaking relevant research activities based on an approved and appropriate national regulatory framework.
The process, he said, aims at developing technologies and innovations that are to enhance and sustain agricultural productivity in the savannah ecological zone.
Dr. Mashad Abdulai, Chairman Institutional Bio-Safety Committee (IBC), said most farmers after cultivation leave their cotton-crops to the mercy of the unwanted weeds and concentrate on the other crops, which results in bad yields.
With this technology, he said, no manual weeding is needed; only spray twice and kill the weeds, leaving the crop alone.