By Iddi Yire, GNA
Ada (GAR), Dec. 19, GNA - Vegetable crops evaluation aimed at ensuring improved fruit quality, higher yields and disease tolerance has commenced in four agro-ecological zones in Ghana.
The project, which is spearheaded by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in partnership with the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) of the University of Ghana is engaging farmers to cultivate on trial basis, improved varieties of the three essential vegetable crops; tomato, pepper and onion, in Ghana.
Dr Leander Melomey, the Project Officer of the Ghana Agricultural Technology Evaluation (GATE) Project and Research Fellow at WACCI, at a field day event to discuss the outcomes of field trials in Ada in the Greater Accra Region, emphasised the need for farmers to embrace technology in their cropping systems by adopting improved varieties that guarantee higher yields, increased incomes and sustainable household livelihoods.
Dr Melomey made the remarks in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the sidelines of an evaluation exercise, in line with the GATE Project hosted by WACCI and funded by the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).
She said the field day (evaluation exercise) was aimed at discussing the outcome of the evaluation of locally available improved varieties of the onion, tomato and pepper.
She said the seeds were supplied by the major vegetable seed companies in Ghana and told the GNA that the field day event was aimed at showcasing the performance of the varieties to the farmers in order to empower them with knowledge of the existence of improved varieties and to afford them an opportunity to provide feedback on what they learnt.
“What came out was how the farmers liked some of the improved onion varieties because of bulb quality and sizes compared to what they usedin the past” she added.
He said the farmers transplanted onion in August; however, the bulbs got rotten due to the heavy rains in October.
Under this project, the onions were transplanted in September and with good agronomic practices, quality bulbs were harvested despite the heavy rains.
The farmers collectively agreed that there was a need to alter their transplanting date. Most farmers said they were looking forward to adopting some of the improved varieties.
Dr Melomey told the GNA that among key issues raised by the farmers was the unpredictability of the performance of seeds, saying, this year the variety would do well, the next time it performs poorly.
Mr Evans Agortey Sackey, Technical and Sales Representative of Syngenta Seed Limited, said before the company introduced any seed material, they went through extensive research to find out how best the materials fitted into the market.
He said if any farmer purchased any seeds and encountered challenges, it would be appropriate to reach out to the seed company and state the concerns for redress.
“For Syngenta what we do is we provide technical support to every person who purchases our seeds, so with our distributor once you purchase the seed your name is registered and we have technical men on the ground to help you in the production”, he added.
Mr Hanson Arthur, a Fund Manager at SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, also told GNA that he was hopeful the farmers would adopt modern agronomic practices since most of the issues identified were about management.
He said there was also a need for a strong relationship between farmers and seed companies, adding that “it is one thing selling the seed to farmers, and another, ensuring that the right practices are done; seed companies must pay critical attention to this”.