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22.02.2005 General News

New plantain hybrids introduce by CSIR

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Asamakese, Feb. 22, GNA - The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) had introduced a new plantain hybrids aimed at increasing rural income and food security in Ghana.

Dr Felix Ofori Anno-Nyarko, Project Co-ordinator of the CSIR, made this known at the launch and sensitisation workshop on the new hybrids at Asamankese in the Eastern Region, on Monday.

He said the hybrids plantain, which has no local names yet, are PITA-3, PITA-4 and PITA-I and are supposed to be given local names after it had being generally accepted.

Dr Anno-Nyarko said the plantain were of higher yielding, more disease- resistant and of high market acceptability than landraces, after its initial demonstration in one district each of the six plantain growing regions in Ghana.

He said the new hybrids plantains were co-ordinated by the CSIR, University of Ghana, MOFA and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) based in Ibadan, Nigeria from 1997-2002. Dr Anno-Nyarko said the new plantain and two other released varieties, the "Apem hemaa"(FHIA-21), a plantain variety and "Kwadu Bempa" (FHIA-01), a banana variety, would be incorporated and multiplied to be distributed to 300 farmers in Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti and Eastern regions on a pilot basis.

He said each farmer would have five plants of each variety, totalling 30 plants per a farmer, in which an estimated 90,000 suckers would be required for the initial distribution.

Dr Anno-Nyarko said an additional community demonstration plot would be established in each community to serve as a training site for all participating farmers in that community.

Mr Paa-Kwasi Entsie of the Plant Protection Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) said the new hybrids came as a result of the threat that plantain farmers faced as a result of the devastating diseases like the black Sigatoka and short crop cycle that almost wiped away all plantain plantations in the 1990s.

He said the initial chemicals to fight the deadly diseases were so costly that most farmers found it difficult to afford and that its environmental consequences were also devastating, thus, the CSIR and IITA research.

He called on farmers to accept the new hybrid, as it was disease-resistant, saying "it could withstand storm" so that they could increase their productivity and also sustain healthy planting material development.