New improved vegetable varieties have been introduced to smallholder farmer groups in the Upper East Region to help address challenges associated with vegetable production and raise output.
It includes; 14 tomato and 11 pepper varieties, which are being introduced to the farmers in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality, while additional nine onion varieties were introduced in the Bawku Municipality.
Their introduction is part of the Ghana Agricultural Technology Evaluation (GATE) project being implemented by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF)in partnership with the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana.
The first phase of the project, which started in 2019 and is expected to end in 2021, is jointly funded by AATF and the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV).
Announcement of the varieties was made at a demonstration farm in Koronia in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality to introduce the new improved varieties to the commercial and smallholder farmers.
Dr Leander Melomey, the Project Officer, GATE project, said at the event the motive was to provide opportunities for farmers to increase yields while maintaining high quality.
Dr Melomey, who is also a Research Fellow at WACCI, indicated that the varieties were introduced in collaboration with some selected seed companies, which he named as; Syngenta, RMG, Dizengoff, Agriseed, East-West and Rijk Zwaan.
She described them as early maturing and of good quality, high yield, resistant to diseases and tolerant of harsh weather condition.
The demonstration farm was to engage and introduce farmers to the various new improved varieties to enable them make choices that would help the GATE project and the seed companies make available those varieties to them.
She explained that the old varieties of tomatoes were planted on the demonstration farm last year, but they all died off, however, the improved varieties survived and begun to mature.
She said the improved seeds and the right application of the agronomic practices would result in increase in vegetable production that would ensure nutritional security and improve income of smallholder farmers.
Mr Gideon Owirwdu, the Kassena-Nankana Municipal Director of the Department of Agriculture, said production of vegetables especially tomatoes had fallen due to low demand.
He said the major buyers of tomatoes in the area complained of poor quality and short shelf life and preferred to buy from Burkina Faso.
He said the vegetables, which were transplanted in November, 2019, were almost matured, certifying that the varieties were of good quality.
He encouraged the farmers to adopt the new varieties and adhere strictly to agronomic practices to increase yields and meet market demand.
The farmers expressed gratitude to the project implementers for affording them the opportunity to have high yielding varieties that would help produce quality vegetables for consumers.
Apart from the new varieties, the farmers also learnt new innovations which were essential in increasing other agriculture production sectors and would replicate the knowledge acquired to other farmers to ensure wider coverage.