The farmers drawn from Communities including Pelungu, Zanlerigu, Kongo, GaneAsonge all the Nabdam District , declared their intention at aStakeholders Platform Forum, organized by the Participatory Action for Rural Development Alternatives (PARDA) on the theme”, Orange Flesh Sweet Potato Production, Consumption, Processing and Marketing for Enhanced Households Food Security”
PARDA, a Non-Governmental Organization working in rural areas in Northern Ghana in the area of Community Agriculture Intensification and Food Security (CAIFS), with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, built the farmers capacity in Orange flesh sweet potatostorage technologyduring the 2015 crop season that led to the increase of the crop production.
Sharing their testimonies at the stakeholder forum, the farmers indicated that unlike the previous crop season , where they encountered post harvest losses , they could now harvest the crop and store them for six months through the new technology to enable them got ready and good market for their farm produce.
The women farmers groups on their part , indicated that apart from getting ready and good market from their produce, PARDA through the project had built their capacity to process nine different dishes including the local dish , Tz, cakes, soup, stew, kenkey ,yoghurt and flour from theOrange-flesh sweet potato.
‘’ Due to technology we are able to get ready and good market to take good care of our children school fees and pay for their National Health Insurance ”, Mr James Tii, a 50 year old farmer stated.
Mr Joseph Ayinbilla, the Board Member of PARDA , who presented the project overview on behalf of the Executive Director, Dr Michael Wombeogo, said the projects goal is to ‘’Improve 250 households production, consumption and incomes through availability of Orange-flesh sweet potato using Sand Pit Method for storage and processing for market in the Nabdam District.
He mentioned that among the project objectives was to Increase production of Orange-flesh Sweet Potato by 250 households from six Metric tons to fifteen Metric tons per hectare and reduce post-harvest losses as well as Increase 300 women income levels through processing, packaging and marketing
He said through the Sand Pittechnology, the farmers capacity were built to store the Orange-flesh sweet potato up to six months by which the demand and market price of the farm produce would have been higher.
“The success of this storage technology depends on several factors including harvesting method, diseased-free tubers and the storage condition (Temperature and humidity)”, the Executive Director stressed.
Dr. Roger Kanton, a Senior Research Scientist of the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI),stated that, the Orange-flesh Sweet Potato which has higher nutritionalcontent including rich in vitamin A and minerals, good source of energy, calcium and iron, higher carotene content than other root and tuber crops , also makes it suitable for combating malnutrition among pregnant mothers and children under 5 years of age.
Dr. Kanton commended PARDA and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, for promoting the growth of the crop andproposed that the Orange-flesh Sweet Potato become part of the School Feeding programme to help improve upon the nutritional status of school children.
“ The crop is produced extensively in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions and we should empower and encourage more farmers to diversify their farming methods to include the cultivation of the crop so as to help address malnutrition among children and pregnant women”, he stressed.
Participants including the District Directors of Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana Health Service, the Ghana Education Service, farmer groups and the Media who attended the forum, stressed the need for the technology to be scaled up in other communities in the region to help improve upon food security.
Mr Anagbillakojo, one of the farmers sellingOrange-flesh sweet potato to Rebecca Akologoa
By Samuel Adadi Akapule, Bolgatanga