The Stress Tolerant Orphan Legumes (STOL) project is sponsored by the Kirkhouse Trust in Ghana and is led by CSIR-Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute (CSIR-PGRRI). The project has introduced six stress-tolerant legumes in the dry Savanna areas of the Sudan Savannah zone of Ghana.
They are made up of four legumes from India; Mung Bean, Moth bean, Horsegram, and Dolichous and collections of Bambara groundnut and Cowpea from India, Mali, Niger, Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Senegal, and Tanzania.
Ninety-six farmers from Binduri District and Bawku Municipal were invited to the project site in Manga Station of CSIR-SARI for a field day.
The four legumes from India were new to the farmers and so they were more interested to know more about their field performances in terms of the maturity period, pod load, resistance to pests and diseases, and other traits of importance to them.
In an interview with Dr. Francis Kusi, the CO-PI of the project, on behalf of the Director of CSIR-PGRRI, Dr. Lawrence Aboagye Misa, said, the population in the Sudan Savanna areas keep increasing yet the productive land for food production keep decreasing due to the type of settlement and the compound farming system in the area.
This presents a serious challenge to Agriculture Research Scientist to develop technologies that will increase the productivity of the available farmlands to ensure the availability of adequate food for the ever-increasing population.
He added that among these technologies include introduction and development of stress-tolerant extra early and high yielding varieties.
These will not just generate food early in the season to address the hunger gap but could be produced several times (at least4 times) in a year to increase the productivity of the limited farmland to ensure availability of adequate nutritionally rich food in the dry Savannah zone of Ghana all the time.
The farmers were conducted round the fields of the four stress-tolerant legumes by the scientists and Technicians to critically evaluate the different legumes and the accessions.
At the end of the day, the farmers selected their best legume(s) and the most preferred accessories out of the 50 accessories of Mung bean, 39 of Mothbean, 21 of Horsegram, and 15 accessions of Dolichous.
The Mung bean emerged as the best legumes to almost all the farmers. The farmers indicated that they selected Mung bean because it’s extra early, maturing at 45 days after planting, flower continuously due to its indeterminate flowing that ensures that it keeps podding so long as moisture is available.
They also saw it as a legume that they can be cultivated several times in a year to produce more food to feed their families and to generate income. The farmers informed the media that Mung bean could serve as one of the important cash crops to them if there is a ready market for it in Ghana.