Yam farmers in parts of Ghana have been exposed to smart technologies required to build a resilient cropping system in order to increase yields to at least 30 per cent.
With climate change thwarting efforts of yam farmers, researchers have underscored the need to have a technology packaged with fertilization, seed treatment, minimum staking and ridging to make farmers competitive to meet yam export standards and reduces production cost. Ghana’s Crops Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-CRI), in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria, has trained and disseminated good agronomic practices to more than 250 yam farmers from Ejura, Atebubu and Kintampo between 2014 and 2016. This is under the 5-year Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Yam-improvedSpeaking to farmers at a field day visit to harvest crop in Atebubu, an agronomist from the CSIR-CRI, Felix Frimpong, stated the project has helped to increase yam production and raised income levels of yam farmers through participatory demonstrations, on-farm trials and farmer’s field days. “The project has helped doubled or in some cases tripped the yield of farmers compared to their conventional practice. It is estimated that the improved agronomic package is able raise yields to about 55% over the current achievable yields in-spite of climate change,” he said. The improved technology builds up farmers’ resilience because the ridging helps in moisture conservation while the use of trellis staking reduces farmers’ contribution to deforestation.
“It is also evident that the technology promotes intensification on the given area because of the high population density and arrangements it accommodates. Sprouting which is also key for yam production is assured because seeds are pre-treated thereby reducing pest incidence and rot,” explained Mr. Frimpong. When adopted, the technology ensures better living standards compared to traditional farming of mounding and planting. Some beneficiary farmers are excited at the opportunity to increase yield under with the improved technology. The researchers have advised policy makers to help promote such innovations and make available mechanized ridges for commercial production. The YIIFSWA project ended in December 2016 with an expected additional grant for a second phase upscale.