The National Varietal Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC) of the Ministry of Agriculture have approved five new varieties of yam developed by a team of researchers from the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI), Ghana. This took place at the CSIR-SARI head office located in Nyankpala on the 19th of January 2022.

These proposed varieties combine high tuber yield with acceptable end-user preferred food quality for pounded yam and boiled/sliced yam. Results of the economic analysis indicated a high revenue or benefit for the proposed varieties, meaning that farmers can recoup their investment and still generate 4.9, 3.8, 3.8, 3.6, and 2.8 Ghana Cedis for every GHc 1 invested compared to the farmer variety with a benefit-cost ratio of 2.9.

The rationale behind the Release of  New Varieties of Yam

According to Dr. Emmanuel Chamba, Yam Breeder, Yam production and consumption have been on the increase over the years, however, the increase in demand is often met by increasing the land area under cultivation rather than resulting from an increase in the yield per unit area. With the increasing population and demand for land for other uses, the trend of area expansion is not sustainable and the fallow period has become shorter creating an urgent need for improved high-yielding varieties with acceptable end-user quality. The objective was to evaluate the agronomic performance and propose for release, of yam genotypes adapted to the Guinea Savannah agro-ecological zone of Ghana.

Selection Process

Using a selection index based on tuber yield, yam mosaic virus (YMV) and yam anthracnose disease (YAD) resistance, tuber dry matter content, and maturity period, ten superior landraces were selected for multi-locational evaluation in 2016 and 2017. Based on the performance of the genotypes in the two-year multi-locational evaluation, five landraces that combined high tuber yield with acceptable food quality were identified for on-farm trials in 2018 and 2019. After two years of on-farm evaluation across five locations, five landraces were proposed for release based on their tuber yield, disease resistance, and consumer acceptability for pounded yam and sliced yam.

Characteristics of the Newly Developed Yam

Dr. Chamba said the SDr1403004 is preferred mainly for its early maturity and superior food quality. SDr1403003, SDr1403005, and SDr1403074 combine high tuber yield with long shelf-life and good food quality, especially after long storage. SDr1403031 is high yielding, stores well, and produces multiple medium-sized tubers that are ideal for the export market. Dr. Chamba also said, “the release and dissemination of these varieties will help to improve the production and productivity of yam in Ghana and improve the livelihoods of farmers and other actors in the yam value chain.”

First Stage of Approval

The approval by NVRRC forms the first stage of the process leading to the official release of the yam variety to Ghanaian farmers. The NVRRC is the authority responsible for approving the official release of new crop varieties in Ghana based on laid-down procedures.

Recommendations By NVRRC

The leader of the NVRRC, Dr. Paulina Addy, who represented the chairman Mr. Seth Osei-Akoto said, “They have recommended to the research team to provide the committee with documents highlighting the location-specific characteristics of the genotype, the climate-resilient qualities, the complete composition of the research team, data on the virus index and shelf life.” She also made mentioned that the suggested names for the varieties should be reviewed by the team.   

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