Yam farmers to benefit from $12million AGRA facility
5/3/2012 9:01:01 AM -
Some 50,000 Ghanaian Yam Farmers have been selected alongside 150,000 others from Nigeria to benefit from a US$12 million facility under a special project by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to improve yields and income for the yam farmers.
The project, launch April 2, 2012, formed part of AGRA's newly launched Farmer Organizations Support Centre (FOSCA) initiative, designed to identify and support small-holder farmers in four Africa countries to have access to funding, adopt best practices, improve their productivity, have access to market and meet market demands.
But the special yam project dubbed Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa, was limited to Ghana and Nigeria and was being done in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria; Crop Research Institute, Ghana; Natural Resources Institute at University of Greenwich, UK; National Root Crop Research Institute, Nigeria: and the Catholic Relief Services, Ghana/Nigeria.
It was designed to take 10 years, but the first five-year phase, would be expected to see farmers cultivate enough to feed themselves and have surplus to sell so they could better their living standards.
FOSCA Project Coordinator for Ghana, Samuel Sey told Adom News in an exclusive interview that West Africa, particular Ghana and Nigeria, was a global leader in yam production and export, but due to poor practices, common diseases in yams tend to be passed on year after year.
'Because yam is a root, it picks up diseases from the ground and because the farmers only cut the heads of the same diseased yam and cultivate them as seeds the diseases are passed on from harvest to harvest,' he said.
He said AGRA had also identified that there were not enough specialized organizations and farmers, who nursed and supplied well treated seed-yams to farmers on a large scale only for cultivation, so they depended on the diseased yams to cultivate year after year.
Mr. Sey said AGRA had therefore selected scientists at IITA in Nigeria to lead research into seed-yam diseases and come out with disease-free and improved seed-yams hat would be supplied to selected and trained farmers, who would nurse them and supply to yam the mainstream farmers.
He said the seed-yams from the research were expected to grow faster and grow bigger to enable the farmers to improve their productivity and income.
Meanwhile, under the FOSCA initiative, several farmer organizations in Ghana and in three other Africa countries (Tanzania, Mozambique and Mali) have been selected to benefit from another $4 million facility in grants, training and technical support, and access to ready market.
Vice President of Apex Farmer Organizations of Ghana (APFOG), Kwaku Boateng told Adom News that over the years, small-holder farmers in Ghana have benefitted immensely from AGRA, in the area of disease control, improved seed availability and supply of fertilizer.
He therefore urged stand alone farmers to join the farmer groups and benefit from AGRA and FOSCA support, adding that the youth who thought of farming as a way of life rather than a business, should disabuse their minds because assistance from organizations like AGRA was making farming very lucrative.
Story by Samuel Nii Narku Dowuona/Adom News/Ghana