Fifty farmers from 10 selected districts of the Upper East Region have been introduced to new climate-smart agricultural technologies in the production of Frafra potato (Silenosstemon rotundifolius) and sorghum production.
A field trip organized by the Upper East Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Savannah Agricultural Institute(CSIR –SARI )stations at Manga in the Bawku Municipality, exposed stakeholders to five new Frafra Potato Varieties and PAC 501 sorghum variety.
At Kongo in the Nabdam District, the stakeholders made up of Research Scientists, District Directors of Agriculture, district crop and extension officers, and media were taken around station fields and farms to observe the performance of five new Frafra potatoes released by the Manga Agricultural station in 2016.
The farmers and some officers took turns to seek clarifications on the new stem cutting technology and performance of the ‘Malaa Anaa’, ‘Nutsuga Piesa’, ‘Naakim tier’ and ‘Manga Moya among other varieties on the demonstration farm.
Dr. Julius Yirzagla, a Senior Research scientist, in charge of the CSIR–SARI at the Manga Agricultural station, emphasized the need for the adoption of the technology to increase production of the crop and encouraged the youth to take it as a source of improving income levels, health and livelihoods.
He said the Frafra Potato had attributes that met the food security potentials of the region since its maturity rate was faster and unlike the seed, the system had an 85 to 95 days maturity period.
He noted that the technology assured a longer shelf life of the Frafra potato and yield potential of 15.3 to 23 tonnes per hectare.
Speaking on the role of CSIR –SARI, Dr. Yirzagla said his outfit generated and disseminated agricultural technologies for smallholder farmers in Northern Ghana to help them improve upon their farming activities.
He said the research activities were centered on cereals, legumes, vegetables, and root crops, among which the frafra potato was most important.
“We improve on the crops in terms of yields and maturity period and come out with crops that meet food security situations as well as develop good agronomic practices and crop protection strategies. It is always done with farmers and we encourage them to adopt them to ensure food security.
Dr Peter Asungre, a Research Scientist at the Manga Agricultural Station, took the participants through a sorghum hybrid demonstration farm, which was done in collaboration with 2Scale, an organization interested in sorghum production meant for malt, and Faranaaya Business Centre, an organization that provides certified seeds for farmers.
Dr Asugre, who spoke to participants on the PAC 501 sorghum variety planted in late June, noted that as compared with ‘Kapaala’ and ‘Dorado’ that are open-pollinated Varieties (OPVs), promoted by the two organizations, the new hybrid seed, PAC 501 technology had shown higher yield potential than OPVs and could perform well in the cropping season.
According to him, the color of the seed was preferred whilst the crop is medium height and unsusceptible to diseases.
Mr. Joshua Diedong, the Regional Crops Officer, said the department of Agriculture was mandated to disseminate proven technologies to farmers for crop productivity and food security and the field trip aimed to link the farmers living far away from the research station to the new technologies.