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20.09.2005 Regional News

Farmers asked to adopt improved crop varieties

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Zebilla (UE/R), Sept. 20, GNA - Farmers in the Bawku West District were on Tuesday introduced to improved varieties of crops grown on demonstration farms at Zebilla to enable them to see for themselves the benefits of such high yielding crops.

The demonstration farms, situated along roads and foot paths were meant to enable the farmers to observe the outstanding performance of improved varieties of maize, sorghum, cowpea, soybean and sunflower and the appropriate agronomic practices that would allow them to express their full yield potential.

Conducting the farmers around the demonstration farms, Mr Tom Bonney, Upper East Regional Project Manager of TechnoServe, the NGO that is undertaking the programme, explained that the new varieties were more high yielding and nutritious.

They were grown side by side with the local varieties to bring out the contrast during the period of growth and at harvest. He said cultivated under improved management practices, which involved zero tillage; correct use of fertilizer and herbicides, good spacing and right plant population per hectare, the new varieties yielded almost five times as much as the local varieties.

Mr Bonney said while the improved maize crop yielded five to seven metric tonnes per hectare, the local variety fetches only 1.4 metric tonnes per hectare and improved sorghum produced between two and three metric tonnes while the local sorghum yielded less than one metric tonne per hectare.

"The improved soybean yields about two metric tonnes per hectare as against the local one that produces less than one metric tonne per hectare while cowpea could give two metric tonnes as against less than half a metric tonne from the local variety." He said TechnoServe had since 2002 been promoting the high yielding Mamaba, a quality protein maize in the Region and was including the other crops to help improve agricultural productivity and food availability.

Mr Moses Abaare Appiah, District Chief Executive, urged the farmers to adopt the new improved varieties so that they could increase their yields.

He asked the farmers to devote their time to learn the new techniques from the demonstration farms and try them on their own. Mr Appiah urged the agricultural officers to educate the farmers on the different ways of making good use of soybean.

TechnoServe aims at helping entrepreneurs in poor rural areas of the developing world to build businesses that could create income, opportunity and economic growth for their families and communities. It plans to arrange for good market for the soybean and sunflower, if the farmers agree to cultivate them in large quantities. 20 Sept. 05

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