Ghana Government Confronted Over Plant Breeders Bill

Agriculture Sovereignty Ghana, a social movement of small holder farmers, trade unionists, student associations and religious bodies is outraged and has expressed disapproval over government’s persistent effort at the passage of the Plant Breeders Bill in spite of the devastating consequences it will have on Ghana’s agriculture and the sovereignty of the country over its seeds and genetic resources.

At a press conference in Accra, Mr Yaw Opoku, Chairman of the ASG said after 5oo years of slavery and the fight for independence from colonial rule, the colonial mentality still persists.

The full text of the Statement is published below unedited;

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, thank you for responding to our invitation.

Agriculture Sovereignty Ghana (ASG) expresses shock and outrage following the news report that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong together with some leading members of the committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of the parliament of Ghana have gone to Netherlands to seek their support for help with the passage and implementation of the Plant Breeders Rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, the people of Ghana led by Farmers, Civil Society Organisations and progressives in the General Agricultural Workers Union of the TUC, the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Christian Council of Ghana, the Centre for Indegenous Knowledge and Organisational Development and prominent Ghanaian citizens like Professor S.K.B Asante, former Chairman of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences have opposed the passage of the Plant Breeders Bill because of the extremely negative impact it will have on the country.

Instead of abandoning the passage of the bill completely and replacing it with one that protect our farmer’s rights and seeds, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice is seeking the support of the very people who will benefit from the passage of the bill? It is sad and shows how our present government is too willing to sell Ghana to the highest bidder.

The Plant Breeders Bill if it becomes law puts the Breeder above the sovereign laws of Ghana. The farmer can no longer save seeds and plant year to year unless he buys them from the breeders who are the agribusiness men and women from Dupont, Monsanto, Arcadia, Syngenta etc mostly foreign companies from the West and their local collaborators and hired local plant breeders. Clause 58 of the bill under the heading OFFENCES makes it a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment to be found planting a registered seed without authorization.

The Plant Breeder has the right to seek court order to destroy the farm of any farmer who breaches the law in section 57 of the Plant Breeders Bill.

The memorandum of the Plant Breeders Bill reveals that the law was being passed as an obligation owed to the World Trade Organisation and not because it is in the interest of the country.

After 500 years of slavery and despite the efforts of our beloved Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah to wean us out of mental slavery, a government of Ghana that claims to be Social Democratic and progressive will go to the Netherlands to seek their support to pass a law that takes the right of farmers over their seeds, and mortgages the country’s sovereignty over its agriculture and land.

We of Agriculture Sovereignty Ghana serve notice that we shall continue to fight this sale of our country to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its Western allies who are the only beneficiaries of the Plant Breeders Bill if it becomes law of Ghana.

We call on all well meaning Ghanaians to help in opposing this law.

John Yaw Opoku
Agriculture Sovereignty Ghana (ASG).

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