Kumasi, May 11, GNA - A total of 343,946 farmers throughout the country planted improved cassava varieties, which were developed under the Roots and Tubers Improvement Programme (RTIP) in 2003.
This brings the number of farmers who had planted the varieties to 538,182 since the introduction of the programme in 1999.
Mr Stephen Asante, Planting Material Manager of the Programme, said these at a forum on the RTIP organised for farmers selected to undertake the programme and district directors of agriculture from implementing districts in the Ashanti region, in Kumasi on Monday.
The meeting was to enable the participants to discuss problems encountered in the implementation of the programme and to initiate measures towards the smooth execution of the second phase of the RTIP, scheduled to begin early next year.
Mr Asante said a total of 4,200 farmers participating in the President's Special Initiatives (PSI) on cassava, also planted the improved crop varieties.
He said 7,622 farmers of a targeted number of 8,000 farmers had also cultivated improved sweet potato vines.
Mr Asante said the RTIP, being funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Ghana Government, was being currently implemented in 59 districts in the country as against 50 districts in 2002.
He said five new improved cassava varieties and a new sweet potato variety had been developed and would soon be introduced to farmers. Mr Asante said post-production and marketing materials would also be made available to the farmers soon.
He said the second phase of the project would focus on post-production and marketing of roots and tubers and the production of extension manuals.
Mr Christian Nti, Ashanti Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), said the aim of the RTIP was to ensure food security and sustainable incomes for farmers.
He said the participation of stakeholders in the projects had been encouraging and urged them to come out with ideas that would help in the successful implementation of the second phase of the programme.