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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

U/E region Farmers engage in PVS on Cowpea trials

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The CSIR-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), has engaged farmers in Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) on a demonstration field consisting of advanced Cowpea breeding lines at its Manga Station in the Upper East Region.

Nine candidate cowpea lines were presented to the farmers to make selections based on their own preference and to seek opinions of the farmers on their choices.

This falls in line with CSIR-SARI’s quest to develop new crop varieties that suit farmers needs in the midst of changing climatic conditions in Northern Ghana.

The Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) brought together One hundred (100), farmers, ten Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs), three Directors of Department of Agriculture, Five Research Scientists and ten Technicians.

The cowpea research and the PVS was sponsored by Bayer Crop Science, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa (AVISA).

Farmers play a pivotal role in varietal selection prior to the release of varieties to ensure that the released varieties meet farmer preferred traits.

The farmers were therefore engaged to assess and select the lines that suits them in terms of their earliness, high yield (pod and seed load), resistance to insect pests and diseases, resistance to striga and large seed size and preferred seed coat colour among others.

In an interview with Radio Ghana, a Research Scientist and Cowpea Breeder with the CSIR-SARI Dr. Theophilus Kwabla Tengey, indicated that before the release of any variety, the best materials are selected and evaluated on-farm or on farmers field.

This Dr. Tengey stated will inform the scientist/breeder on the candidate lines to present to the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC).

Farmer’s participation is usually key so that at the end, whichever gets approved for release will be widely adopted or accepted by farmers as they were involved in the selection process.

The Director of MoFA in charge of Bawku Municipal, Mr. Charles Akwotiga, expressed gratitude for the immense contribution of CSIR-SARI in the Agricultural sector.

He said the varieties released so far by the CSIR-SARI, are not only apt in mitigating the climatic conditions but are more profitable to farmers, especially in the five regions of Northern Ghana.

Mr. Akwotiga therefore advised the farmers to discard cropping the unimproved varieties and adopt new varieties developed and also, make sure they obtain seeds from the right source in order not to toil in vain.

Dr. Francis Kusi, a Senior Research Scientist with the CSIR-SARI, hosted the participants. He took farmers through good production practices being implemented on foundation seed fields of Kirkhouse Benga and Wang Kae varieties of cowpea which were released by the Institute in 2016.

He schooled them on land preparation, planting, weed control, insect pest management and prompt harvesting.

Analyzing the cost/benefit of cowpea production, Dr. Kusi admonished the farmers that it is very profitable to venture into cowpea production in Northern Ghana.

Story filed by Emmanuel Akayeti

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