Community Action for Yam Seed to increase food security in Ghana, Nigeria

Smallholder farmers in Ghana and Nigeria are being supported to improve on the quality of saved yam seed for higher productivity.

The Community Action for Yam Seed (CAY-SEED) Project is aimed at increasing food security and wealth creation by addressing some of the major limitations to yam production.

The three-year project is targeted at improving the quality and productivity of 3,000 smallholder farmers through innovative agricultural interventions in eight major yam growing communities in Ghana and Nigeria.

It is being implemented by the Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and partners, with a $3.5million funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – the CSIR-CRI is making $0.5million additional in-kind contribution.

Seeds are key component in the drive for food security and sustainability, especially in these times of climate change and its impact on agricultural production. Availability of yam seed constitutes as much as 50% of total cost of yam production.

“Coupled with this is the poor quality of available seed yam; damage from nematodes, viruses, tuber rots and bacterial infections are major contributions to the poor seed quality and yield reductions in yam,” observed Dr. Stella Ennin, Project Leader and Director of the CSIR-CRI. “This partnership intervention is therefore vital to raise the level of seed yam production in Nigeria, which is the lead producer of yam in the world, and Ghana, which is the leading exporter of yam in the world”.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) considers the CAY-SEED grant as a “critical investment”. 

“We identified seed systems as one of the primary constraints across cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas and yam; all the crops that we invest in,” noted Claire Kpaka, an Associate Program Officer at the Foundation. “For us, we see CAY-SEED as an important opportunity to demonstrate to farmers the best practices in maintaining clean seed at their own farm level.”

Whilst commending development partners for the support for agricultural development, Dr. Ennin pleaded with the Ghanaian and African governments “to provide the needed support to agricultural research and development to realize African government’s vision as enshrined in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), of making agriculture the vehicle for economic transformation on the continent”. 

Ashanti Regional Minister, Samuel Sarpong, addressing the project launch, acknowledged it is only through research that problems of low crop yield would be addressed.

According to him, the government of Ghana with the support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank is making significant strides in addressing the challenges faced by research into the crop.

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