Some farmers in the Northern Region have expressed interest in new technologies for cowpea, bambara, groundnut and soya beans cultivation to improve their yields.
They expressed the interest to adopt the new technologies to cultivate legumes, when they visited a legumes’ demonstration site at Golinga in the Tolon District of the Northern Region to observe how the new technologies had affected the growth of legumes.
The technologies included planting legumes without applying any inputs (farmers practice), introducing a bio-fertilizer called rhizobium inoculant to the legume to enhance nitrogen fixation, better plant architecture and grain yield, adding mineral nitrogen fertilizer particularly urea to the legumes, and combining both rhizobium inoculants and the urea to the legumes.
These three new technologies are to improve yields of grain legumes, soybean to about three tonnes per hectare, bambara groundnut and cowpea to two tonnes per hectare, which will ensure high incomes for farmers and improve their livelihood.
They are being promoted under the Participatory Pathways to Sustainable Intensification, Innovation Platforms to Integrate Leguminous Crops and Inoculants into Small-Scale Agriculture and Local Value Chains (PASUSI) project in Ghana.
The PASUSI project is being implemented by a consortium of institutions namely Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR – SARI), University of Helsinki, Finland, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway, and Makerere University, Uganda with funding from the European Union.
It seeks to improve productivity, livelihoods, nutrition and household well-being of farmers in the northern part of the country while counteracting environmental degradation.
Madam Zuwera Abukari, a maize and cowpea farmer from Golinga, who was among the farmers, who visited the demonstration site at Golinga, said the technology with inoculant application was doing better than the one with no application.
She said “I have observed that the one with fertilizer is also doing well. The one that combines both fertilizer and inoculant is the best. I prefer the one with the inoculant because the inoculant is easy to buy.”
She said she had been cultivating cowpea for a long time now but comparing what she had seen on the field and what she had been doing, she would adopt the new technology to improve her yield.
Another female farmer from Golinga said the technology with mineral nitrogen fertilizer had the biggest grains and, “That is what I have selected.”
Mr Abdul Somed Issahaku, a cowpea farmer from Golinga selected the technology with fertilizer application saying “It has good grains and farmers are yearning for good grains.”
Dr Edwin Akley, Research Scientist at CSIR-SARI, who explained the technologies to the farmers at the demonstration site, said “We want farmers to adopt any of the technologies to increase their yields and that should translate into improved livelihoods.”
Dr Akley said “the new technologies are cost-effective” adding that “The farmer is better off adopting the rhizobium inoculant technology than going in for the mineral nitrogen fertilizer, which is expensive.”
He said presently farmers get less than two tonnes per hectare and “We want to increase that yield to about three and half tonnes per hectare.”
He said “When farmers grow legumes that have high protein content, when they eat them, it will improve their nutritional status. So, we are talking about nutrition and well-being as well as increasing their income levels and yields.”
Meanwhile, the PASUSI project is being replicated in eight districts including Kumbungu, Nanumba North, Zabzugu, Yendi, Nalerigu, Bunkpurugu-Nakpanduri, Tolon and Tamale Metro in the Northern and North East Regions and about 5,000 farmers are expected to be reached under the project.