Business News of 2014-05-17

FARA calls for massive education on Angular leaf spot disease

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) has advocated a massive educational campaign to create awareness on the Angular leaf spot disease which is fast devastating citrus production in Ghana.

The fungi disease, first seen in the country in 1995, had since devastated large tracts of citrus plantation, with most cultivators losing as much as 50 per cent of their crop yield.

The most endemic areas include the Ashanti, Volta, Central, Eastern and Brong-Ahafo Regions which have about 40,000 people engaged in the citrus industry.

Professor Wale Adekunle, Director in-charge of Partnerships and Strategic Alliances of FARA, said sensitizing the farmers on the disease would help them adopt precautionary measures and acceptable agro-practices to improve their yield.

He was speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Barniekrom in the Ahafo-Ano South District of the Ashanti Region, after a field trip to some of the affected farms to assess the extent of damage caused to citrus plantations in the District by the disease, and find remedies to the problem.

It was also to bring on board policy-makers, cultivators, processors, extension officers, marketers, researchers and scientists, to get first hand information on the disease.

It was sponsored by FARA under the Platform of Africa and European Partnership for Agricultural Research and Development (PAEPARD), with support from the European Commission and Government of Ghana.

Prof. Adekunle said FARA was currently advancing a concept dubbed: “Innovation Platform,” which seeks to bring all stakeholders on board, to tackle challenges impeding the growth of the citrus industry.

This approach, he said, had proven to be more effective in sanitizing the industry, as it affords stakeholders the opportunity to brainstorm for prompt solution to constraints affecting the sector.

Dr. Alhaji Alhassan Yakubu, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, in a speech read on his behalf, stressed the need for the private sector to collaborate effectively with government to address agricultural-related problems, such as post-harvest losses, and the adoption of new technologies for increased productivity.