More than 120 farmers have participated in a field day demonstration exercise on improved frafra Potato varieties held at Kongo in the Nabdam District of the Upper East Region, with the aim of reviving neglected and underutilized crops as in Frafra potato and Fonio in Ghana.
The participants were drawn from Nabdam and Talensi Districts and their adjoining farming communities which form part of the case study areas of the project. Some of the farmers expressed joy that the new varieties which can be vegetatively propagated, give more yield and matures earlier than the indigenous method of propagation by seed tubers.
Ms. Naab Modesta a farmer said it easy for her to raise the types of mounds required for planting the new varieties with stem cutting propagation as a woman. Apart from that she said, it gives maximum yield with less cost. Another farmer Robert Babil stated that, with its high yield, it augments the family food security and income and easy to also preserve that seed than the difficulties associated with cultivating the local variety.
The demonstration exercise was organized by The Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI) in collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture in the Talensi and Nabdam Districts of the Upper East Region. This is part of the EWA-BELT Project being implemented in Ghana by the CSIR-SARI and Kundok Development Consult (KDC), a private limited Company based in Tamale but operating in the North East and Upper East Region.
The research was funded by the EU H2020 EWA-BELT project  “Linking East and West African farming systems experience into a BELT of sustainable intensification” coordinated by the Desertification Research Centre of the University of Sassari”.
Speaking in an interview with ModernGhana News in Kongo, the Director of Kundok Development Consult (KDC), Dr. James Konbiok indicated that, the project is made up of work packages 1 to 7 with twenty partners across the world, package 1 is administration handled in Italy with package 2 to 7 handled by individual Institutions. Work package two he said, has six African countries, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Sierra Leone in West Africa and Tanzania Kenya, and Ethiopia in East Africa.
Dr Kombiok added that KDC and CSIR-SARI are collaborating in a number of Tasks in Work Package two (WP2), one of which is reviving neglected and underutilized crops, such as Frafra Potato (FP) and Fonio which are considered as such in Ghana. CSIR-SARI has the expertise in FP whiles KDC is good in Fonio cultivation hence their intersection. The Acting Director and Senior Research Scientist (Entomologist) of CSIR-SARI, Dr. Francis Kusi stated that CSIR-SARI uses technology to make farming productive for the farmers so that we can help fight the food security problem we face as a country and to also use farming as wealth creation tool as in “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ).
He said FP is CSIR-SARI’s target as one of the underutilized crops that has great food, nutrition, and medicinal value. Dr. Kusi was grateful to the EWA-Belt project for making it possible for farmers to benefit from CSIR-SARI’s technology of the improved FP to boost their production toward food security in Ghana especially propagation through the stem cutting technology.
The Coordinator of the EWA-Belt project and a Senior Research Scientist with the CSIR-SARI Dr. Joseph Adjebeng-Danquah said the project is under the Horizon 2020 (H 2020) and in Ghana, CSIR-SARI is working in four key study areas which are formed into a Farmer Field Research Unit. Two in the Upper East Region, one in North East and the other in Northern Region.
The Upper East Regional Crops Officer Joseph Diodong on behalf of the Regional Director, Department of Agriculture said MoFA is the link between research and the farmers by extension, and the field demonstration was to open up the farmers and MoFA for that matter, to upscale the cultivation of FP across the fifteen Municipalities and Districts in Upper East Region.