Research institutions to develop improved cereal varieties
Two research institutions are conducting research into developing crop varieties with useful biological traits that will not only be high-yielding but also tolerant to pests, diseases and drought.
Some of the crops the research is being conducted on are cassava, sweet potato and cocoyam.
The initiative by the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and the Crop Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is being supported by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP). Its focus is ensuring access to improved genetic materials.
It is expected that the outcome of the research will contribute to achieving food self-sufficiency in the country and other neighbouring nations through the exchange of crop genetic materials.
The technical expert in charge of legume and physiology of WAAPP, Dr Alphonsus Kuusom Belane, told the Daily Graphic that the two crop institutions were very central in the provision of breeder seeds for the production of other categories of seeds.
“While the four National Agric Stations, namely; Wenchi, Mampong, Kpeve and Asuansi, were more suited for root and tuber crops multiplication, the Babile Agric Station has been tasked with the production of cereals and legumes foundation seeds,” he said.
As a public service provider, the Directorate of Crop Services , he stated, had also engaged the five national agricultural stations to increase the availability of primary root and tuber planting materials and the foundation seeds for cereals and legumes.
Private service providers are also being supported by the WAAPP through the Department of Agriculture in a number of Metropolitan/Municipal/District Assemblies (MMDAs) to establish secondary cassava multiplication fields as well as certified cereal and legume seeds.
According to Dr Belane, WAAPP’s initial mandate was to improve root and tuber crops. “However, the second phase of the programme expanded this mandate to include cereals, legumes, vegetables and local poultry,” the expert indicated.
Dr Belane said the production of certified seeds for cereals and legumes was limited to the SADA ecological zone in the three northern regions and a number of peripheral districts in the Brong Ahafo and Volta regions, while those for the multiplication of roots and tubers were carried out in other parts of the country.
So far, more than 202 hectares of certified seed fields have been planted in the zone. “It is expected that these seed fields will provide adequate certified seeds for the 2016 cropping season,” he said.
Secondary cassava seed materials have also been planted on over 2,000 hectares of land.
He hoped that the provision of improved genetic materials to farmers would translate into increased yield with resultant higher incomes and ultimately, enhanced livelihoods.