Ghana and the IAEA have worked together for several years to develop national capacity in plant mutation breeding and tissue culture technology. Through its technical cooperation programme, the IAEA provided fellowships and scientific visits to build capacity, and also trained scientists in the skills needed to apply the technology in their fields of operation. This new capacity is now being used to strengthen Ghana’s flower growing industry.
The flower industry in Ghana is currently under-developed. Little research and development has been dedicated to the sector, and it faces challenges in the production and propagation of flowers. However, the industry has the potential to provide sustainable job opportunities that can reduce the high youth unemployment rate in Ghana, especially among university graduates.
“The flower industry is a highly-evolved market that contributes immensely to income and foreign exchange in most developed worlds,” said Abigail Tweneboah Asare, a research scientist and training facilitator. “However, it is an emerging industry in Ghana, with the potential to provide income and improve the livelihood of growers as well as provide foreign exchange for the country as a whole.”
In collaboration with the Ghana Flower Growers Association, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has recently began to train flower growers in modern propagation techniques. The training seeks to transfer current propagation technology to the flower growers, and to encourage the growers to adopt tissue culture planting materials to enhance their productivity. The use of tissue culture techniques and other modern techniques can have a considerable impact on agricultural productivity.
“The Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute of the GAEC has several ways it could assist flower growers, especially in the application of tissue culture and mutation induction techniques for rapid propagation, multiplication and continuous supply of planting materials,” said Ms Asare. “Furthermore, through the use of mutation induction, flowers with different aesthetic features can be produced by the Institute to boost the flower industry.”
Ms Asare noted that government has plans to expand flower production in Ghana for both new and old export markets. “The application of tissue culture techniques is key to achieving this vision within a short period of time,” she said.
The training of the flower growers also included records and book keeping, entrepreneurship, and social media marketing – all skills which will assist the flower growers to carry out their businesses effectively.