Climate resilient improved maize and cowpea varieties have been introduced to some farmers in the Northern Region to help them save money and harvest good yields.
The maize varieties, which are drought tolerant, and mature early (80 to 85 days) included Suhudoo, Opeaburo, Denbea, Abotem, and Wang-dataa.
The cowpea varieties, which are tolerant to pest and disease infestation included Kirkhous Benga, Padi-tuya, Zamzam, and Nketewade.
The varieties have been developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), and the CSIR – Crops Research Institute (CSIR – CRI) and are being showcased as a climate change adaptation strategy.
The farmers visited a demonstration farm at Woribogu in the Tolon District of the region, where the maize and cowpea varieties were planted to showcase how they were performing on the field.
At the demonstration farm, the varieties were observed to be doing well compared to the farmers’ own varieties, which were not doing well.
This formed part of the Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) project funded by the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank.
The AICCRA project is led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture with the support of the CSIR – CRI, Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International, Esoko, Ghana Meteorological Agency and the University for Development studies.
It seeks to make climate information services and climate-smart agricultural innovations more accessible to small scale farmers across the country for optimal health outcomes for people, animals and plants.
Climate change effects have rendered lands unproductive, reduced the yields of many major crops and contributed to the distribution and severity of pests and diseases hence the climate-smart agricultural innovations to guarantee yields for farmers.
Dr Stephen Yeboah, Senior Research Scientist at CSIR-CRI, and Technical Focal Point for AICCRA project, who explained the innovations on the demonstration field to farmers at Woribgu, said adopting the maize and cowpea varieties would help farmers save a lot of money while improving their livelihoods.
Dr Yeboah said “Cowpea production is associated with a lot of challenges. A lot of chemicals are used in cowpea production, and it is not healthy to the individual and the environment. So, we are highlighting several cowpea varieties that are pest tolerant. Once they are tolerant, it means that the farmer applies less chemicals in generating the needed yields, which means less effects on the environment and on the human being doing the farming.”
He added that “Another benefit is the fact that some of the cowpea varieties are dual purpose, which means that the farmer can harvest the pods for household food security and then some amount of fodder for livestock. The leaves are also harvested as vegetable. So, this enhances livelihood and increases the economic value of the fields.”
He said “If you are doing large scale commercial farming, you will end up having less cost with the improved varieties because you are not going to spray many more times. You will spray few times; two times unless the pest has reached a certain threshold. So, you will end up saving money with the improved varieties compared to the farmers’ varieties.”
Dr Osman Damba, Focal Person for AICCRA Ghana project at the University for Development Studies said the technologies being promoted showed that “Every farmer, irrespective of your locations and income levels, you can actually adapt to fit into the current effects of climate change.”
He said some of innovations were pro-vitamin varieties, which would help boost nutritional status of consumers.
He urged farmers to work with agricultural extension agents in their communities to collectively identify the required technologies to address the nutritional and food security needs of their areas emphasising that “Remember, every geographical area is soil specific and the nature of the soil will determine what variety will work very well in your area.”
Mustapha Alasan Dalaa, National Coordinator of AICCRA project, Ghana Cluster mentioned other crops being promoted under the project saying “We are promoting climate-smart agricultural practices in some selected value chains including yam, sweet potato, tomatoes, and other leafy vegetables across the country. It is a particularly good intervention for farmers as it will improve their livelihoods.”
Amadu Ahmed Yussif, a farmer, said next farming season, he would adopt the climate resilient improved varieties to guarantee him yields.
Zainab Fuseini, another farmer, said the varieties being promoted on the demonstration farm were better than what she had been planting and would adopt them for improved production and incomes.
Mr Fuseini Salifu Issifu, District Chief Executive for Tolon advised farmers to embrace agricultural technologies generated through research to improve productivity.
He commended partners for the initiative appealing to them to extend it to cover other crops, which were cultivated on a large scale in the district.