The Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI) has partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. government’s Feed the Future Agricultural Technology project, and Iowa State University to develop the Institute’s Core of Excellence for agricultural research initiative. USAID, through the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, supports CSIR-SARI to strengthen agricultural research, boost agricultural productivity and generate economic opportunities.

The initiative aims to improve the infrastructure and seed research facilities at the Institute’s main campus in Nyankpala. In this effort, a principal team of researchers in the maize, soybean and rice value chains, along with communications and business development experts will spearhead initiatives to push SARI to a higher level of performance.

The Core of Excellence initiative intends to make SARI the premier agricultural research system in northern Ghana, according to SARI’s Director, Dr. Stephen Nutsugah. The goals are to strengthen SARI’s capacity to conduct cutting-edge scientific research, build a business model suitable for supporting transformative research, and improve their capability of disseminating research results to various stakeholders.

To achieve these objectives, a group of SARI personnel will be trained on the strategies, principles, tools, and practices to enhance SARI’s infrastructure, facilities, research agenda, and operational procedures. Each team member will lead a specific development area and create an action plan for heightened performance in consultation with Institute personnel in the head office and outstations in the Upper East and Upper West Regions. Additionally, the Core of Excellence team also will craft business plans to generate income to sustain facilities and improve efforts to communicate research results within and beyond SARI’s area of influence.

A priority of this initiative is on producing crop varieties for selected value chains and make high-quality certified seeds available to farmers. “There is an urgent need to provide farmers with access to quality seeds that they can afford because our actual production considerably lags behind our potential to make available foundation and breeder seeds to farmers. There is much to be gained by promoting the growth and development of the seed industry,” Dr. Nutsugah explained.

In 2015, the Institute released seven maize hybrid varieties in March, five pearl millet varieties in July, and successfully organized a soybean kickoff event in October. This year, the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture approved seven new maize hybrids developed by the Institute to be released and commercialized. In addition, five Frafra potato lines developed by the Manga station have passed the first inspection stage leading to their commercial release this year. The same group, using biotechnology also developed five aphid-tolerant varieties of cowpea this year.

In February 2015, USAID, through Feed the Future, supported SARI with $5.5 million to promote excellence in agricultural research and institutional capacity development.

About Feed the Future
Feed the Future is the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, it supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty, and undernutrition. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov.

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