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Thursday, July 7, 2022

African smallholder farmers recieve support

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Smallholder farmers in eight African countries are being supported through a project funded by Bill and Melinda Gates to increase yield of the major grain legumes and selected

forages.

The four-year project dubbed: “N2Africa”, has initial capital of US19.2 million dollars aimed at reducing poverty among African farmers.

Dr Steven Kwasi Nutsuga, Acting Director of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Savanna Agricultural Institute, who announced this mentioned Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as beneficiary countries.

He was speaking at the in-country-launch of the project on the theme: “Putting Nitrogen Fixation to Work for Smallholder Farmers in Africa”, in Tamale on Monday.

The event brought together agricultural scientists from the beneficiary countries to brainstorm and offer interventions towards the success of the project.

Dr Nutsuga said the plan would be implemented through the development, dissemination and promotion of appropriate technologies.

He said it would support farmers to increase average grain legume yield by 870kg per hectare, increase household grain legume consumption to 200kg per household per year.

Dr Nutsuga said 28,125 farmers in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions of Ghana would benefit from the scheme in Ghana and productivity was expected to increase by 1.3 tons per hectare.

According to him, the project is geared towards empowering farmers to achieve sustainable production and land use for agricultural production.

He revealed that the project is in line with objectives and strategies of the Food and Agriculture Sector Development policy in which sustainable management of land and environment is a key component.

Northern Regional Co-coordinating Director Joseph Dasanah, who launched the project, said the main problem farmers encounter in the area has to do with soil infertility.

He said the application of chemical fertilizer, intensity of 50kg nutrients per hectare recommended for use by African countries would best improve soil quality and increase yield.

Mr Dasanah added that rhizobia, nitrogen-fixing micro-organisms, are usually associated with target grain legumes to fix atmospheric nitrogen and convert it to usable form to the legume plant.

He said this would enrich the soil for subsequent cereal crops and reduce the huge foreign exchange spent by African governments in importing chemical fertilizer.

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