Researchers of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) based in Manga in the Binduri district of the Upper East region have developed five varieties of frafra potato for cultivation. The researchers have also discovered a fast way of cultivating the crop using stem cutting instead of the traditional way of planting the crop using its tubers.
The frafra potato is consumed mostly in many households in Northern Ghana especially in the Upper East and West regions. It serves as a food security crop during the lean season when all available crops have been consumed.
The frafra potato known in most parts of the Upper East region as “pe-esa” is a small herbaceous annual crop with prostate stem and branches. Farmers of the frafra potato botanical called “solenostemon rotundifolius poir” traditionally produced the crop which has high market potential in small quantity owning to lack of unapproved technology to improve its production.
It is against this backdrop that Leader of the CSIR-SARI based in Manga, Francis Kusi speaking to A1radioonline.com said the new method of stem cutting to transplant the crop using a small nursery bed will enable farmers to produce it in a large scale which was not possible using the old method of planting the potato using its tuber.
“Farmers have seen the potential [on] how this can change their lives and they have seen how useful it is and how they can use that technology to improve frafra potato production on a very large scale.”
Mr. Kusi added that “we also took them [farmers] through on how they can also improve the storage by taking them through a lot of storage technologies which they can use to also store the tubers, not just for planting but also to keep it longer for use in the house and to sell to the general public.”
The frafra potato does not contain sugary just like other potato thereby making it demands high in the Ghanaian market. “Our analyses have shown that when you invest Ghc 1.00 into its production, you can get twelve times, [that is] Ghc 12.00 in return which makes it very economical to go into it, that is after you have taken your cost of production and everything” he stated.
The new technology discovered hopes to engage many youth in the region in the cultivation of the frafra potato for consumption and commercial purpose.
Chairman of National Variety Release and Registration Committee, Seth Osei Akoto who led a team of researchers to survey and give recommendation of the research to the seed council was impressed with the research done to increase the production of the crop.
“We wish to recommend that the other things that they need to put in which we have alert, [the] major one is [to] look at the nutritional content. Looking at the ways that they can improved upon the methodology and other things. Besides these things I think we are satisfied with the output so far.”
Upper East regional director of agriculture, Reverend John Manu called on government to absorb the frafra potato in the ongoing ‘planting for food and jobs’ policy so that “at least those of us in Upper East we can promote it and scale it to the southern sector because I learnt it can also do well there”
By: Joshua Asaah|A1radioonline.com|Ghana