An Agricultural Engineer at the Department of Agriculture and Biosystems at the KNUST, Professor Emmanuel Bobobee, has called for improved mechanisation of cassava production in order to spur economic growth in the country.
“The adoption of mechanised agricultural practices across Africa,” he said, “will spur growth of the agricultural sector while helping to promote, on an industrial scale, other important cash crops which thrive well in many parts of the continent.”
Prof. Bobobee said this at the visit by a delegation from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) paid to the TEK Research Centre at KNUST to witness the TEK Mechanical Cassava Harvester (TEK-MCH) hat was invented by Prof. Bobobee.
He further stated using the technology will be very beneficial for smallholder farmers to farm all-year-round.
In addition to the cassava harvester, Prof. Bobobee with the assistance of the Crop Research Institute of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CRI-CSIR) has cultivated a 10-acre farm of 22 newly-released elite varieties of cassava.
The newly-released elite cassava varieties, which include ‘Abrabopa, Sika, Dugi and Bankyehemaa among others, are said to be very high in starch yield and can survive harsh climatic conditions like drought and floods.
These cassava varieties can be used for the production of alcohol, artificial rice, confectionery, paper, monosodium and medicine among many other uses.
The FAO Visit
The FAO delegation, led by Moussa Djagoudi, was at the KNUST as part of an international conference seeking to reinforce linkages between smallholders, semi-formal and formal markets.
The project, ‘Strengthening linkages between small actors and buyers in the Roots and Tubers sector in Africa’, was funded by the European Union and is being implemented in seven countries of Africa including Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda.
It aims at improving the livelihoods of small producers and other actors engaged in the roots and tubers value chains in the above-mentioned beneficiary countries.
Moussa Djagoudi, speaking to the media, noted that modernised agriculture will not only advance efforts to achieve food and nutrition security, but also play a key role in employment creation and also empower involvement of the youth.
He said acquisition of the cassava harvester, for instance, will be a good opportunity to reduce the stress of all the value chain actors while making them more proficient, viable and competitive.
He recommended that cassava farmers should come together and contribute to patronise the technology for their benefit.