The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in partnership with the Crops Research Institute (CRI) has introduced to farmers in the Fanteakwa and Atiwa Districts of the Eastern Region, a new improved vitamin ‘A’ rich orange maize varieties.
The gesture was to enable the farmers shift from the cultivation of white maize to the newly introduced orange and yellow maize to help increase yield for higher income.
The varieties were Honampa, Ahoedzin, Ahoefe and Dzifoo.
Others were Abotem, a yellow maize developed by the CSIR and CRI in Kumasi with support from Harvest Plus Project based in International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (Nigeria), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Mexico.
Addressing the farmers and the Agriculture Officers at Saamang in the Fanteakwa South District, Dr Manfred Ewool, Maize breeder at the Crops Research Institute, said samples of the new varieties were given to the Department of Agriculture of the Fanteakwa South and the Atiwa District Assemblies to set up demonstration fields to help educate the farmers in the area on the newly introduced seeds.
He said sensory evaluation was organized as part of the programme with the farmers in food preparations – Banku, Ga Kenkey and Tuozafi, for the acceptability of the orange maize for food and expressed satisfaction with the emerging interest.
Dr Ewool said the orange maize matures early and also contains vitamin “A” which is very essential for the eyes, skin and even unborn babies.
He said when used as poultry feed, the eggs laid looked a bit more yellowish and are more healthier than those fed with the white maize hence the need for farmers to adopt these newly improved seeds.
Dr Ewool said that the varieties have already been introduced to farmers in the Central Region, Ashanti Region as well as Brong Ahafo Region and at Amanase in the Eastern Region.
He said currently extensive promotion of vitamin “A” orange maize varieties is ongoing by CSIR and CRI in 35 communities in the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions with support from the World Food Program.
Dr Ewool called on the government to include the orange maize varieties in the School Feeding Programme due to improve upon the nutritional values of food served to the children.
Mr Adjabeng Ntori, the Fanteakwa South District Chief Executive, thanked the CSIR- CRI for including his district in the programme and urged the residents of Saamang and surrounding communities who will benefit from the programme, to ensure its success.
He urged them not to hesitate to report any challenge they come across to the assembly and promised to liaise with the Agriculture office to help tackle those challenges.
Some of the beneficiary farmers who spoke to the Ghana News Agency said they were ready to go into full scale production with the new maize varieties.