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MOFA Releases 16 New Crop Varieties
Posted on: 29-Aug-2012         Source: Daily Graphic
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has released sixteen newly improved crop varieties for commercialization.

They include three cocoyam, six maize, four groundnut and three cowpea improved varieties which are high yielding, tolerant to diseases, pests and drought.

The varieties which were developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Crops research Institute were recommended for sale on a large scale by the National Variety Release Committee.

The varieties of maize include Three Way Hybrid (White); Top Cross Hybrid (White); Single Cross Hybrid (Yellow); and OPV (Yellow).

The Hybrid Maize, which was part of the new array of maize released, is noted to yield higher than the Open Pollinated varieties (OPVs). They are drought tolerant to mitigate some of the effects of climate change on maize production.

These new varieties of maize also address the issue of the high prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in Ghana.

The varieties of cocoyam include SCJ 98/005 which goes by the local name “Gye me di” meaning “Believe me”, AGA 97/162 also known as “Obo Ntem” meaning “Early Yielding” and SW 011or “Maye yie” also meaning “I am well off”.

For the Cowpea variety, they comprise of IT93K-192-4 with the local name, “Hewale” meaning “strength”, IT94K-410-2 or “Asomdwee” meaning “Peace” and IT95K-142-20 also known as “Videfuu (vide le enju fuu) which means “Profitable”.

The new varieties of groundnut include ICGV97049 which goes by the local name “Oboolo” meaning “Big”, ICGV98412 also known as “Obooshi” meaning “Big”, ICGV88709 or “Otuhia” which means “Drives away poverty,” and ICGX SM-87057 or “Yenyawoso” meaning “None like you.”

These local names were assigned to the released varieties to reflect their attributes.

According to the Minister of Food and agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, the varieties were developed with the ultimate objective of helping to increase productivity, farmers’ income and reduce poverty, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.

The new varieties he also explained, when listed in the National Catalogue, would afford the institution or breeders the opportunity to publicise the materials within the sub-regions with a major advantage being the exposure to international markets and reduction in poaching of Ghanaian intellectual works for commercialization in other countries.

Cocoyam production according to the Minister has over the years had its own setbacks owing to the abuse and misuse of agrochemicals on farm lands.

“Between 2009 and 2010, the level of cocoyam production dropped by 2.14 per cent and dropped further by four per cent in 2011.” He said.

Subsequently he explained the need to explore all opportunities available to stem the downward trends in the production of the crop experienced in the past few years adding “Cocoyam is a food security crop in Ghana, as majority of the rural community relies on it when other crops fail.”

The Minister also commended the hard work of Ghana's distinguished scientists and researchers for their committed and tireless efforts in coming out with these varieties and charged them to work assiduously to maintain and promote the varieties.

The Director of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Crops research Institute, Reverend Dr Hans Adu Dapaah said in an interview that the improved varieties had gone through series of evaluations and testing prior to their recommendation for commercialization.

The crops he said were tested for two to three years before their release and in line with that, urged farmers to adopt the recommendations that have been provided to go along with the released varieties.

In terms of increasing yield, he explained that the new materials have out yielded all existing ones in the system, stressing, “in terms of yield, nutritional attributes, they are superior to the varieties that were released earlier on and that is why the National Variety and Release Committee deemed it fit to recommend them for release.”

Subsequently, the Ministry has released a manual to enlighten people on procedures for the release and registration of crop varieties in Ghana.

The 35-page manual, titled ‘Procedures for Release and Registration of Crop Genetic Material’ seeks to clearly define the sequence of processes, interfaces and responsibilities that are required for the release and registration of crop genetic materials.