Smallholder farmers have been urged to adopt new improved seed varieties so as to ensure increased yields.
According to Dr. Rajeev Varshney, Research Programme Director at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), access to improved seed varieties helps to increase yields of farmers – hence the need for farmers to adapt the use of new seed varieties.
Dr. Varshney said this during a field observation trip to Wantungu, a farming community in the Tolon district of the Northern Region.
The field trip was to assess the maturing stage of a Tropical Legume III project (TL III), an initiative of the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to augment seed production in Ghana. The project is a part-pilot of new seed varieties cultivated by farmers in the Tolon district for commercial production.
The TLIII project, being carried out via the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA), seeks to ensure availability and access to affordable legumes through the use of good agricultural practices to increase farmers’ yields.
It is funded by the International Crop Research Institute, as part of measures for empowering women farmers to be financially independent.
The project is being rolled out in the Northern, Upper East and West Regions with 150 women and implemented by CSIR-SARI – with technical support from Send Ghana and other partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ICRISAT and TLIII.
To ensure that the desired results are achieved, farmers have been divided into groups of 30 – each from selected farming communities and provided with capacity training on best agronomic practices, nursing process and access to quality, certified seeds to boost crop yields.
ICRISAT, Dr. Varshney noted, is committed to strengthening community-based seed production to increase access to certified quality seeds, which he said is key to boosting agricultural production in the country.
Project leader of TLIII, Desmond Sunday Adogoba, said access to land, funds and improved seeds remain major challenges hindering women farmers.
“We had a brainstorming workshop to discuss the result of a survey conducted in the three regions of the North and to outline factors which account for post-harvest losses between male and female farmers in the country. From the workshop, it was realised that access to financial resources, improved seeds and land for production by farmers are big challenge hindering outputs,” he stated.
Headquartered in India, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics is an international organisation that conducts agricultural research for rural development, with several regional centres and research stations across the world.