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11.12.2009 Agriculture

Crop Research Institute to release four new maize varieties

By Kofi Adu Domfeh
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The Crop Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) would be releasing four new drought-tolerant maize varieties early next year to support farmers cope with unexpected changes in the weather.

Director of the Institute, Dr. Hans Adu-Dapaah says a holistic approach to mitigate the effects of climate change should include accurate access to weather information and other technologies to help farmers.

He was speaking to Luv Fm on climate adaptation and mitigation for local farmers as world leaders seek a treaty on climate change at the UN summit in Copenhagen.

The socio-economic impact of climate change on the agric sector include decline in crop yields and production, which increases the risk of food insecurity and hunger.

According to Dr. Adu-Dapaah, various crop varieties have been developed to help farmers mitigate the impact of unexpected changes in the weather. He says “all our breeding programmes are aimed at developing early-maturing crop varieties – maize, cowpea, groundnut, soybean as well as cassava, yam and rice. Normal maize would take about 120 days to mature but we've come out with varieties that will mature between 85 and 100 days”.

He however says access to agricultural technologies would need to be up-scaled. “Some of these technologies and varieties that we've developed need to get to the farmers and it will take the intervention of government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to resource extension staff”, Dr. Adu-Dapaah noted.

The crop scientist is also advocating the establishment of well-equipped weather stations in the districts for farming communities to access meteorological information. He observed “there are very few meteorological stations in Ghana, so I don't fault them but government should be able to afford if we are to mitigate the effects of climate change. Every district capital should have a weather station to be able to inform farmers as to when to plant and when not to plant”.

Dr. Adu-Dapaah called for the enforcement of policy on bush burning as well as the promotion of integrated crop management practices for local farmers to minimize damage to the soil and environment.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa /

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