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Meeting on Tropical legumes opens in Accra

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Accra, March 18, GNA - A three-day regional meeting on tropical legumes production was opened in Accra on Monday to review progress and draw up plans to enhance productivity of the six legume crops in drought prone areas within Western and Central Africa.

The 10-year project, for participating countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali, is currently in its sixth year and being supported by Bill and Miranda Gates Foundation.

It seeks to focus on enhancing productivity of the six legume crops in drought prone areas within Western and Central Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa and parts of Asia by at least 20%, through availability of enhanced grain production and adoption of improved crop management practices.

Dr Emmanuel S. Monyo, Coordinator of Tropical Legumes II Project, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), explained to the GNA that the project involved a partnership with 15 national programmes and the private sector, concentrating on training farmers, particularly women in selected countries on best farming practices that would enable them to have access to more yielding seeds and select the best ones suitable under their farming conditions.

In Ghana, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is being partnered to implement the project in legume producing areas in the country, particularly in the three northern regions. Ghana however joined the programme two years ago.

Dr Monyo mentioned other countries like, Niger, Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe and India and Bangladesh as some of the project countries within Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

He explained that the project aims at enhancing market opportunities, policies and partnerships as well as developing farmer- and market-preferred crop varieties and technologies while establishing sustainable seed production and delivery systems.

He said, so far, baseline studies had been completed and data collection instruments and guidelines developed and validated for the early adoption studies in Nigeria, Ghana, Niger, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Odisha, Bihar and Bangladesh.

Dr Monyo said a total of 113 new legume varieties, comprising 23 new groundnut, 17 soybean, 14 cowpea, 15 chickpea, 10 pigeonpea and 34 beans had been released.

He announced that more than 20,000 farmers had been trained with over 400 extension officers also trained in 2012.

Dr Monyo mentioned the lack of access to information on available varieties due to poor awareness, poor access and unavailability of improved seed making farmers to depend on less yielding seeds.

He, however, indicated plans to intensify further distribution of improved seed access and to strengthen capacities via mentorship and called on participatory countries to adopt measures to curtail the problem.

Dr Jeff Ehlers, Programme Officer of Global Agriculture Development of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said 30 percent of women had been trained to upgrade their skills while a lot more 'local women farmers' were being trained in groups to know and understand how to adopt best farming practices in legume production.


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