Ghana’s promotion of high quality Cassava Flour has in the past four years helped open up markets for cassava farmers to improve incomes and reduce poverty levels.
According to Dr. Abdulai Baaba Salifu, Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), over 45,000 tons of surplus cassava from farmers’ fields had been moved into the new markets within the cassava value chain, as at March 2012.
The CSIR-Food Research Institute (FRI) in collaboration with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) developed agro-processed foods under the “Cassava: Added Value for Africa” Project to serve as wheat flour substitute for the production of bread, pastries and in plywood production amongst others.
Dr. Salifu says this has created “an overall income of over GH¢1.5 million for close to 15,000 cassava farmers, which translates to an extra income of about GH¢100 per farmer”.
He was speaking on “Enhancing Food Security and Regional Integration through Research and Development” at a Regional Workshop on Root and Tuber Crops, organized under the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) in Kumasi.
The World Bank in May 2012 approved a US$120 million financing for the Phase II of the WAAPP to improve food production by spreading new agricultural technologies in Ghana and Senegal.
The program will finance technology exchange programs, align national priorities with regional ones to increase regional cooperation in food technology generation, and support a greater push for technology adoption and dissemination.
In Ghana, the CSIR’s Crop Research Institute executes the research component whilst the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) disseminates the research findings.
WAAPP Phase I helped boost research and extension activities, bringing together research and educational institutions, industrialists, extension workers, farmers and consumers to a common national objective in Ghana and in the sub-region.
Crop Scientist, Prof. S.K.A. Danso expects the second phase of the WAAPP to stress on getting the improved technologies to majority of farmers, “visit them and make sure they are adopting the technology and once you extend to some farmers who accept it, others would learn from them”.
“Our populations are increasing but the land area of the country remains the same with portions deteriorating due to human activities. With the recent phenomenon of climate change and its adverse effects – flooding, drought, heat and related outbreak of pests and diseases – it takes demand-driven research to develop technologies and products to meet the demands of our farmers, processors and consumers. This is where CSIR comes in”, noted Dr. Salifu.
Minister of Food and Agriculture, Kwesi Ahwoi, believes the effective coordination of research efforts within the national and international agricultural research system is very important to ensure that scarce resources are applied to priority research.