Gov’t secures mechanical cassava harvesters

cassavaThe Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the West African Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP) on Thursday handed over five mechanical cassava harvesters to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture at a ceremony in Accra.

The harvesters were designed and manufactured by the Agricultural Engineering Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) with sponsorship from the WAAPP.

The WAAPP project was a World Bank sponsored programme to address food insecurity in Africa and is operating in 13 ECOWAS countries.

Mr Clement Kofi Humado, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, said the delivery of the technology was timely as it was almost non-existent in the country and farmers would be relieved from drudgery associated with harvesting of cassava especially in the dry season.

He commended KNUST for designing and manufacturing the harvesters, adding that the technology would encourage the cassava industrys.

He said the government,  in its effort to improve the lives of  farmers, was adopting a policy of modernizing agriculture through farm mechanization.

“Our focus on mechanization is aimed at increasing efficiency and productivity, reducing drudgery and fatigue involved in farming as well as making farming appealing, especially to the youth,” he said.

In line with that policy, he said, the Ministry was promoting cassava production, processing and marketing particularly in the transitional zone of the country.

Mr Humado said one of such programme was the Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Project, which is aimed at promoting, production and processing on the commodity and as a result of this there had been an increased production of cassava from 10.2 million metric tons in 2007 to 14.2 million metric tons in 2011.

He said the demand for cassava was increasing, especially by the brewery industry and for export of starch and called on the brewery companies to invest in the cassava harvesters  in their out grower schemes.

Mr Humado said the Agricultural Engineering Services Directorate of the Ministry had put in place a programme to train beneficiaries on how to operate the harvesters and urged the Directorate to put in place a monitoring and evaluation system to monitor output of the harvesters.

He said it was his expectation that the technology would be transferred to local manufacturers to fabricate that model of harvesters for farmers.

Mr Emmanuel Alorigiya, Communication Director of WAAPP, said the project was to help cassava farmers to alleviate the challenges characterized with cassava harvesting as well as reducing food insecurity on the continent.

He said WAAPP countries such as Sierra Leone, Togo, Mali and Benin also shown interest after they had visited the site last year and stressed the need for all stakeholders to disseminate the news about mechanical cassava harvesters.

Source: GNA

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