Mr Daniel Syme, the Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, on Thursday called on researchers and research institutions to come out with more improved and early maturing crops for farmers in the northern part of Ghana.
Mr Syme said the climate change was fast catching up with the Upper East, Upper West and the Northern Region, as well as the Northern part of the Brong Ahafo Region, where rainfall patterns have drastically and dramatically changed, giving these areas less than two months of active rainfall.
The Deputy Minister made the call when he launched an agricultural project meant to upscale the growing of cowpea and groundnuts in Northern Ghana, comprising the Upper East, Upper West and the Northern Regions.
According to the Deputy Minister, who launched the project on behalf of the Minister, Mr James Zuugah Tiigah, the rainfall, especially for this year, was clearly one of the biggest disappointments to farmers in recent years, most especially, those in the Upper East Region, as the year has not experienced more than four good rains.
Millet, which is the staple for the people in the area should have been matured and harvested by this time of the year. However, the rains came in late this year and was not even enough, making the farms to wither..
The project, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), dubbed “taking Cowpeas to scale in West Africa” covers four target countries; Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.
The project, which is being led by the IITA through the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) in Ghana to be piloted in the Upper East Region for future replication to other farming communities in northern Ghana, is expected to increase sustainable, demand-driven production and productivity in smallholder farmers’ fields in the four target countries, using best production technologies in the ‘feed the future’ (FtF) communities in the target countries.
Feed the Future, is the US Government’s global hunger and food security initiative that explores the expansion of partnerships with related partners around target set of technologies for the promotion of large-scale dissemination of improved cowpea and groundnut technologies.
Dr Ibrahim Dzido Kwesi Atopkle, Country Coordinator for the USAID Cowpea Project, who took participants through the modus operandi of the project, said it focused on scaling out technologies that enhanced the production and productivity of cowpea in the four West African countries where the crop is very important for food security and nutrition.
Professor Paul Bomber Tanzubil, Country Coordinator for the Groundnut component of the Project indicated that about US$3.8 million was involved in the Groundnut component of the project, and that, Ghana was to receive US$ 341,000 to pilot it in 21 districts, whilst Mali and Nigeria would receive US$ 270,000 and US 129,000 to operate in 22 and 31 districts respectively.
Mrs Afua Ohene-Ampofo, Project Administrator, USAID Cowpea Project, said if the project was successfully implemented, the targeted countries stood the chance of getting the Projects renewed and therefore called on Managers of the Project to put in their best to ensure that they succeeded.