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In response to the growing global need for high beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) crop varieties, the CSIR-Crops Research Institute has developed and released four yellow-fleshed cassava varieties onto the market for cultivation and consumption. The varieties were all approved and recommended for release by the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC) of Ghana.

The announcement of the approval and recommendation of the new CRI cassava varieties was made by the Chairman of the NVRRC, Mr. Seth Osei Akoto after the Committee’s second and final inspection and validation at the Institute.  He applauded the Institute for responding to the nation’s challenge of a lack of enough yellow-fleshed cassava varieties and further encouraged promotion, marketing and dissemination strategies that will ensure that the planting materials are available to farmers.  

The varieties, which will now be gazetted by the National Seed Council are the result of several years of extensive on-station and on-farm trials by the Institute’s cassava breeding team led by Dr. Bright Boakye Peprah and Dr. Ruth N.A. Prempeh.

The four elite cassava varieties mature between 12 – 15 months, are high yielding (potential yield: 33-40 t/ha), have high dry matter (30-35%), tolerant to the Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD), vigorous and produce dense canopies early in their growing cycles and therefore good for weed management. All the varieties are yellow-fleshed with total carotenoids content ranging between 4 – 12 µg/g.

These attributes will help boost food security and improve health status of consumers. All four released varieties can be processed into wet cake as an intermediary product for further processing into gari, cassava dough, high quality flour etc.  Additionally, they fit into the existing cropping systems of the different ecological zones of Ghana. One variety, I083774, with a potential yield of 40 t/ha, is also “poundable” and can be used in the preparation of “fufu”.

Lead breeder and team leader, Dr.  Ruth Prempeh expressed appreciation to project sponsors, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), HarvestPlus and NextGen for their funding and continued support throughout the duration of the project. She called for more of such collaborations in the future.

Dr. Prempeh, in her presentation, encouraged the development of more yellow-fleshed cassava varieties since, they would help reduce the high incidence of Vitamin “A” deficiencies (VADs) among sections of the Ghanaian populace.

“Most of our released varieties are white-fleshed with low or negligible amounts of carotenoids. As such, cassava has low levels of protein and micronutrients when compared to other crops”, she said.

She further stressed that, consumption of these new varieties will fight against VADs which expose humans to severe health implications such as growth retardation, a weakened immune system, night-blindness and pre-dispose children to several diseases.

“In Ghana, 72% of our children under age 5, are affected by VADs resulting in 17,200 deaths annually. The high prevalence of VADs in Ghana is partly attributed to lack of vitamin “A” in the predominant cereal, root and tuber crop-based foods consumed by adults as well as infants. It is our hope that the release and subsequent consumption of these varieties will go a long way to reduce these statistics” she added.

Farmers and end users are encouraged to contact the CSIR-Crops Research Institute, at Fumesua and Kwadaso or offices of the Agriculture Departments to access planting materials for cultivation.

Congratulations to Dr. Ruth Prempeh and the cassava breeding team at CSIR-Crops Research Institute.

Dr. Ruth N.A. Prempeh, Cassava Breeder/Team Leader
Confectionaries made from cassava varieties
Gari made from cassava varieties
Members of the NVRRC with Dr. Prempeh and Dr. Allen Oppong

List of Contributors: Ruth Prempeh, Allen Oppong, Bernard Sakyiamah, Enoch Osei-Tutu, Enoch Bobie Agyemang, Augustine Ofosu, Peter Amankwaah, David Kow Amo, William Aidoo.