Smallholder farmer groups in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality of the Upper East Region have been introduced to new improved vegetable varieties, to help address challenges associated with vegetable production.
The vegetables included 14 tomato varieties and 11 pepper varieties.
An additional nine onion varieties have also been introduced to farmers in the Bawku Municipality.
The Ghana Agricultural Technology Evaluation (GATE), project which is being implemented by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in partnership with the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana, is aimed at increasing vegetable production.
The first phase of the project started in 2019, and is expected to end in 2021, and is jointly sponsored by the AATF and the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV).
At a demonstration farm in Koronia in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality to introduce the new improved varieties to the commercial and smallholder farmers, Dr Leander Melomey, Project Officer, GATE project, explained that the motive is to provide farmers the opportunities to increase yields while maintaining quality.
Dr. Melomey indicated that the varieties were being introduced in collaboration with some selected seed companies including Syngenta, RMG, Dizengoff, Agriseed, East-West and Rijk Zwaan.
She disclosed that the new varieties were of good quality, high yields, resistance to disease and tolerance to weather condition as well as are early maturing.
She added that the demonstration farm was to engage and introduce farmers to the various new improved varieties to make choices to enable her outfit and the seed companies available those varieties to them.
Dr Melomey stated that the tomatoes were planted on the demonstration farm last year but they all died off, however, the improved varieties survived and had begun to mature.
She explained that, with improved seeds and the right application of the agronomic practices would result in increase in vegetable production which ensure nutritional security, improve income of smallholder farmers and their livelihoods.
The Kassena-Nankana Municipal Director of the Department of Agriculture, Gideon Owirwdu, indicated that, the production of vegetables especially tomatoes had fallen due to low demand.
He said some of the major problem identified confronting the sector was that factor buyers compliant of low quality and poor shells which do not make it last long before getting spoilt.
He said the vegetables which were transplanted in November, 2019, was nearing maturing buttressing the fact that the varieties are of good quality and therefore encouraged the farmers to adopt the new technology and adhered strictly to agronomic practices to increase yields and meet the market demand.
Apart from the varieties, they have also learnt new innovations which are essential in increasing other agriculture production sectors and would replicate the knowledge acquired to others farmers to ensure wider coverage.
The farmers expressed gratitude to the project for affording them the opportunity to have high yielding varieties that would enable them produce quality vegetables to prevent consumers from travelling to neighboring countries like Burkina Faso.
Story filed by: Emmanuel Akayeti.