Quality seed yam needed to support PFJ programme – CRI
Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, has made a strong case for the availability of quality seed yam planting materials to farmers under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme.
Dr. Stella Ama Ennin, the Director, said this was appropriate to improve Ghana’s yam production value which currently stood at five million tonnes per year.
“We have no time to waste or spare in view of the agronomic significance of yam to the development and growth of the nation,” she told stakeholders at a two-day dissemination workshop on the ‘Community Action in Improving Farmer-Saved Seed Yam (CAY-SEED)’ project at Fumesua in the Ejisu Municipality.
She observed that the nation was gradually being overtaken by Nigeria, currently Africa’s largest producer of yam, in respect of the export of the non-traditional crop.
The CRI, she said, given the emerging threats confronting the nation on the international market, had strengthened stakeholder linkages and engagement to maximize yam production.
Presently, yam contributes about 16 per cent to the nation’s agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while cassava provides 22 per cent, however, the former has more unit value on the market than the latter.
The project, being sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with the CRI as implementing partner, is a strategic initiative to improve seed yam production, using the best available technology and improved extension services.
Other implementing partners include the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), an international organization promoting agricultural innovations, and other Nigerian-based agricultural institutions.
Dr. Ennin indicated that the seed yam industry was fraught with lots of challenges – low soil fertility, as well as pests and diseases being the major determining factors to the drop in production.
The Director said adequate attention had not been given to addressing diseases and pests occurrences in the seed yam production system over the years.
For this reason, they were working assiduously to provide to farmers quality planting materials for increased yield, while improving their income.
Dr. Kingsley Osei, a Principal Research Scientist of the CRI and Regional Coordinator for the project, said the workshop was designed to share results made through the implementation of the CAY-SEED initiative.
Topics discussed included ‘Quality Seed Yam Production’, ‘Agronomic Technologies for Improved Seed Yam Productivity’, ‘Seed Yam Degeneration Studies in Ghana’, as well as ‘Aeroponics System for Commercial Pre-Basic Seed Yam Production’.