Six new improved cassava varieties developed by the Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to boost the nation’s food security and meet emerging industry demands, had officially been introduced.
These are said not only to be disease, pest and drought-resistant but high-yielding than any of the existing varieties.
Dr. Stella Ama Ennin, Director of the Institute, put the per hectare yield at between 45 and 60 tonnes.
She stated that the researchers did not use genetically modified organisms to develop any of the varieties – ‘CRI-Lamesese’, ‘CRI-Abrabopa’, ‘AGRA-Bankye’, ‘CRI-Amansan Bankye’, ‘CRI-Duade Kpakpa’ and ‘CRI-Dudzi’.
Their development was made possible by a US$300,000 funding and technical backstopping from the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Dr. Ennin said she was confident that the Alliance would continue to strengthen its partnership with the CRI to raise the commercial and market value of the seed value chain for cassava and other root and tuber crops.
She said given the needed funds and technical assistance the Institute could come out with root and tuber crop varieties needed to achieve food security.
So far it had released 17 cassava varieties – many of them disseminated for adoption by smallholder farmers, agro-processors and industrialists.
Dr. Victor Agyeman, Director-General of the CSIR, highlighted the advantages of cassava production and called for increased investment in that area of agriculture.
Cassava is currently ranked, the number one staple food and the most-widely cultivated crop in Ghana, occupying about 840, 000 hectares of the farmland.
It contributes almost 22 per cent to the nation’s agricultural gross domestic product (GDP), with over 70 per cent of Ghanaian farmers engaged in its planting.
Dr. Agyemang gave the assurance that the Council would do everything to explore avenues to fully maximize cassava production.