The Yam Development Council has reached advanced stage in developing a formal policy framework to sanitise the Ghanaian seed yam industry.
The major highlights of the framework deal with regulatory plans on the acquisition and sale of quality seed yam for the benefit of the farmer.
Dr. Kingsley Osei, a Principal Research Scientist of the Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, said this was being done as part of the ‘Community Action in Improving Farmer-Saved Seed Yam (CAY-SEED)’ project.
Speaking at Fumesua, Ashanti region at a dissemination workshop, the Principal Research Scientist indicated that the final document on the policy framework would be presented to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) soon.
Dr. Osei, who is Regional Coordinator for the project, being implemented in Ghana and Nigeria, said the unavailability of quality seed yam on the market had resulted in the declining yam production and also contributed significantly to the reduction in farmers’ income since their yield was affected.
The Principal Research Scientist cited pathogen infection and plant nematodes damage as major factors to the drop in yam tuber quality and yield on the field.
“The availability of quality planting materials would lead to a yield of at least 30 per cent over the current average yield of 11 tonnes per hectare”, he stated.
Dr. Osei said the CRI under the project, was providing the technical expertise in order to come out with quality planting materials for increased yam production by small-holder farmers
Ghana produces an average five million tonnes of yam annually, the second largest production value by any other African country, apart from Nigeria.
However, agronomic scientists believe this could be improved given the availability of quality seed yam on the market.
Dr Osei said the CAY-SEED project, commencing in 2015 in the country, was being implemented in eight yam-growing communities in the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo Regions, and has the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as main sponsor.
The implementing partners include; CRI, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ministry of Food and Agriculture, amongst others.
Dr. Stella Ama Ennin, Director of the CRI, in an opening address, underscored the importance of yam production, stressing that given the requisite investment and technological advancement, the nation could create many jobs along the value chain.
She noted that in view of the agronomic importance of yam, it would not be out of place for government to work closely with the CRI to develop quality planting materials for the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme.