Agricultural scientists from Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria have met to develop high-yielding yam seeds that are disease-resistant. The effort is targeted at enhancing yam production for both the local and international markets.
The project, which is on a pilot basis, will take 36 months to complete and will cost about $4 million. It will involve improving the quality and productivity of about 3,000 smallholder farmers in eight growing communities, particularly in Ghana and Nigeria.
The project is on the theme: “Community action in improving farmer-saved seed yam,” and is being co-ordinated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The leader of the project and Director at the CSIR, Dr Stella A. Ennin, made this known at the launch of the project in Kumasi. She commended the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for providing $3.5 million towards the project.
She said damage caused by nematodes, viruses, tuber rots and bacterial infection was the major contributor to the poor seed quality and reduction in yam yield.
Dr Ennin urged the government of Ghana and other African governments to provide the needed support for agricultural research and development.
This, she said, would help to bring into reality the visions of African governments as enshrined in the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which seeks to make agriculture the vehicle for economic transformation on the continent.
The former Ashanti Regional Minister, Dr Samuel Sarpong, said since yam production played crucial roles in Ghana and Nigeria, the government was prepared to support the production of yam of high quality for local consumption and for export.
He said besides the role yam played in culinary processes in Africa, its current production was experiencing reduction in yield per unit area mainly due to poor quality of seed yam because of poor management of field storage, disease and destruction of farmer-saved seeds by pests.
He gave the assurance that the government would continue to provide the needed support in crop research in order to promote the development of agriculture in the country.
The Director General of CSIR, Dr Victor K. Agyemang, said the institute would continue to spearhead initiatives that stood the chance of promoting the country’s development and advancement in the world.
He called for the involvement of farmers in the development of products in agriculture and other initiatives since it was in their interest to ensure that their voices were heard.
By: Felix A. Baidoo
Date: Wednesday, 11 March 2015