MoFA Approves Three New Cowpea Varieties for Northern Zone

By
Anthony Apubeo, GNA

Manga (UE), Oct. 01, GNA – The National
Varietal Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC) of the Ministry of Food and
Agriculture (MoFA), has approved another batch of three new varieties of
cowpeas for the Northern part of the country.

These add to the four that were approved
couple of weeks ago for the southern part.

The new varieties which are expected to be
released onto the market for cultivation and consumption are not only resistant
to striga, parasitic weeds, which often attacked the crops leading to low
yields, and root knots, but also drought tolerance and adaptable to climate
change variability.

Members of the Committee made the approval
after inspecting the field trials of the new varieties of the cowpeas at the
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savannah Agricultural Research
Institute (CSIR-SARI) station at Manga in the Bawku Municipality of the Upper
East Region.

They were jointly released by a group of
Research Scientists drawn from the CSIR-SARI and the College of Agriculture and
Natural Science of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) as the lead institution,
Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute of Ghana, the University of Virginia
in the United States of America and MoFA.

The approved varieties of the cowpeas are
expected to be submitted to the MOFA and would be subsequently placed on the
National Seed Bank and the National Seed Catalogue.

Dr Francis Kusi, a Senior Research Scientist
of SARI in charge of the Manga Station, who led the team of the NVRRC and some
Research Scientists to the trial farms, said the new varieties of cowpea
released would benefit farmers across the Northern, Upper East and Upper West
Regions including some southern parts of the country.  

He explained that the released varieties were
not only striga and drought resistant but were also high yielding and early
maturing genotypes that farmers could cultivate widely in both the northern and
southern zones in the country and to meet consumer needs.

 Dr Kusi
who said the new cowpeas varieties approved by the NVRRC were selected based on
farmer and consumer participatory rigorous evaluation activities, indicated
that they had the greatest potentials of increasing cowpea production by 30 per
cent.

“This will not only provide affordable
protein-rich foods but also create jobs to generate income to improve
livelihoods in both rural and urban poor communities particularly women
farmers. Plant breeders will also make use of available cowpea genetic
resources for continuous improvement of the crop to sustain the cowpea industry
in Ghana”, he indicated.

Dr Kusi who stated that the Cowpea germplasm
were obtained from the SARI-CSIR and local farmers in the Ashanti Region of
Ghana as well as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA),
Ibadan, Nigeria, indicated that the northern zone trails was not only conducted
at Manga SARI station in the Upper East Region, but also at Silbelle-Tumu of
the Upper West Region.

Professor Richard Ankromah, a Senior Lecturer
at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), speaking on
behalf of Mr Seth Osei-Akoto, the Acting Director, Crop Services at MoFA,
commended the Research teams and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic
Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO) for funding the project.

He noted that one of the major factors
affecting food security in the country particularly Northern Ghana was the
striga plant disease, drought and other crop related diseases and expressed
optimism that with the new scientific discovery, it would help curb the
problem.

Professor Aaron Tettey Asare, the Head of
Department of UCC in charge of Biotechnology and leader of the research team,
indicated that about 70 per cent of Ghanaian’s population consume cowpea in
different forms of foods making the country to import the legumes at high cost.

He said it was to help fill in the deficit and
to save the country from using hard earned currencies in importing the
leguminous crop that the project funded the research and indicated that the
Northern Ecological zones were among the regions in the country with the
greatest potentials to grow the crop in the country.

GNA

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