ASSESSMENT OF THE QUALITY OF CERTIFIED SEEDS SOLD AT RETAILERS SHOPS IN FOUR SELECTED REGIONS OF GHANA
Quality seed is a major asset not only for farmers but also other end users who rely on it for optimum production. This study was undertaken to assess the quality of certified seeds sold on the market in four of the regions in Ghana. Structured questionnaires were distributed to 36 certified seed retailers in Greater Accra, Western, Ashanti and Northern Regions of Ghana. Data collected were analysed to profile retailers and to ascertain knowledge on safe seed storage practices. Samples of certified seeds were collected from retailers for testing at the National Seed Testing Laboratory at Pokuase, in the Greater Accra Region. A Completely Randomised Design (CRD) was used to analyse 25 of the seed samples comprising maize, cowpea, tomato and pepper with each replicated 4 times. Seed quality was assessed by determining seed purity, germination percentage, seed moisture content, seedling vigour and seed health status. The results of the study indicated that the certified seed retailers sampled were experienced, well-educated and had adequate knowledge on appropriate storage temperatures, commodities to mix with seeds and appropriate storage materials. Despite the high knowledge level, majority of the retailers stored seeds at high temperatures ranging from 27oC-38.5oC higher than the 18oC or low expected. The practice was attributed to the low capacity of retailers to invest in cold storage facilities. High germination percentages were observed in all tested seeds except in WR5 (76 %) for maize and GA9 (69.5 %) and GA10 (39.8 %) for tomato seeds. All tested seeds had safe moisture content and were highly pure and vigorous. The challenge was with the health status of local sampled seeds (maize and cowpea) tested: Pathogens such as Acremonium strictum, Fusarium moniliforme and Curvularia lunata were found to be predominant in tested maize seeds in all the four regions. Other pathogens were observed on either maize or cowpea in some of the regions. The study recommends capacity strengthening of certified seed retailers to invest in cold chains to enhance safe seed storage environments.