CSIR-PGRRI working to upscale cultivation of indigenous leafy vegetables

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leafy vegetables in Ghana

The Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute (PGRRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is working to upscale the cultivation and usage of indigenous leafy vegetables in Ghana.

leafy vegetables in GhanaThe institute under the Seed for Resilient Project (SfRP) has, therefore, selected Amaranthus spp. (alefu), Corchorus spp. (ademe/ayoyo) and Roselle spp. (sule) varieties for trial and multiplication to enable more farmers, especially women to cultivate.

These vegetables, according to the institute, require less intensive planting systems, thrive with little soil, require little agronomic practices and capable of growing after cultivation in any part of the country.

Dr Lawrence Misa Aboagye, CSRI-PGRRI, Chief Research Scientists told the Ghana News Agency, at Boadi in the Oforikrom Municipality during an inspection of farmers’ field trials that, these vegetables were highly nutritious in protein and minerals such as calcium, phosphorous and manganese.

They also serve as supplementary diet.

The varieties had also been already adapted to the environment and acquired certain characteristics which made them able to withstand drought.

Dr Aboagye said the Institute collected the seeds last year, multiplied them to get enough quantities of the planting materials to give to the farmers at some selected sites and later allowed farmers at Boadi to plant 20 lines of the varieties.

He said the Institute was conducting participatory varietal selection that allowed for farmers to be involved in selecting varieties by themselves.

Dr Aboagye explained that the Seed for Resilient, was a three-year project which started in 2019 with support from the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Germany.

The aim is to strengthen the link between the Ghana national gene bank, scientists, and farmers to conserve and share their seed collections to improve food security.

It is also to increase the diversity and use of indigenous leafy vegetables and the Bambara groundnut germplasm to help improve their resilience to climate change.

He said as part of the project, a novel model of engaging farmers from the bottom-up approach had been developed through which indigenous leafy vegetable and Bambara groundnut user groups have been established in the Upper East (Manga), Northern (Golinga and Libga) and the Ashanti (Boadi and Barekese) regions of Ghana.

In the Northern Region, the CSIR-PGRRI is collaborating with the CSIR-Savanna Agriculture Research Institute (SARI) to implement the project through on station, mother, and baby trials of selected indigenous leafy vegetables, while in the middle-belt, the Institute is partnering the Crops Research Institute (CRI).

Dr Aboagye explained that, seeds were given to the farmers for them to test on their own fields under their own conditions, cultural practices, and preferences among others, and compare them to what they already had.

“If the farmers find anything interesting about the accessions provided, they can select what is or are of interest to them.

This is different from the normal convention where a research institute selects and introduces crop varieties/ genotypes to farmers,” he observed.

Dr Mrs Patricia Pinamang Acheampong, Principal Research Scientist, CSIR-CRI, explained that the characteristics of farmers affected the adoption of varieties, and was hopeful the innovation of participatory selection would help the Institutes to track farmers according to their characteristics.

This, according to her would facilitate the adoption of the varieties by the farmers.

Baba Rauf Abdullai, a farmer at Boadi, called for increased public education to encourage many farmers to plant local and indigenous vegetables.

He said the vegetables were highly nutritious, environmentally friendly and easy to cultivate and called on farmers to show keen interest.

By Florence Afriyie Mensah, GNA

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