Sample of the variety

Farmers along the White Volta basin, especially those in Binduri and Sapelga in Bawku in the Upper East Region, whose crops were washed away during the spillage of the Bagre Dam and the torrential rains, have been advised to plant the newly improved variety of cowpea known as Kirkhouse benga and Wankai benga using residual moisture.

This came to light at a day’s demonstration seminar held in Manga, Bawku to sensitize the farmers on the economic value, yield and the need to cultivate the varieties as a sure measure to mitigate their losses as the dry season approach.

A cross section of the farmers at a briefing before field trip

The two cowpea varieties, Kirkhouse benga is named after the UK based sponsors of the programme, Kirkhouse Trust. Meaning “Kirkhouse beans” and the Wankai benga is named after the parasitic weed striga that the cowpea varieties are developed to suppress and thrive, is “no more”.

In effect, farmers can mow heave a sigh of relief and plant in commercial quantities without any course to the parasitic weed striga. Over 200 farmers were brought together mainly from the affected areas.

Dr. Francis Kusi on field demostration with some of the farmers

In an interview with Radio Ghana, a Senior Research Scientist of the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute SARI based in Manga Dr. Francis Kusi said, as a Research Institute, the seminar was to introduce the farmers to the newly improved varieties and facilitate access to the cowpea seeds which can help alleviate their losses.

Dr. Kusi at a breeding site

He indicated that, the varieties thrive well on all kinds of soils except water log areas. They are high yielding in terms of pod load, seeds per pod, number of pods per pinnacle, maturity period of 60 days and above all striga resistant.

The District Director of Agriculture Bawku West Elias Atimbire stated that, the demonstration seminar was timely, saying his district was one of the hardest hit and the farmers’ crops are all gone.

He stressed that, once the newly improved cowpea varieties can be planted for seed and used as grain, it will support the farmers to overcome the food security issues that the floods have left in their wake.

The 2016 Award Winner National Best Farmer first runner-up Ariku Martin Akudugu lamented that he had about five hundred hector of his farm land submerged in water, 320 under maize cultivation and 180 hectors being rice.

He further stated that, closed to One thousand three hundred and 75 1,375 of his out-growers were also affected in various levels by the spillage coupled with the torrential rains.

He said the demonstration seminar was appropriate as the new varieties will help them go in for the off season cropping which will enable them gain something. This he added will from those planning to travel to the southern sector to search for non existing job because of the flood disaster and how the demonstration seminar was useful.

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