The Country Coordinator of the Support for Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) Programme, Dr Kwadwo Obeng-Antwi, has advised farmers to ascertain the variety of crops before planting them, to avoid sowing industrial crops for human consumption.
He indicated that some crop varieties might be good for human consumption, while others were meant for industrial purposes. For that reason, he said, knowing the characteristics of a variety would enable farmers to know their target customers and also allow them to determine the right prices for their produce.
Speaking at a forum organised for maize farmers at Aframso, a predominantly maize-farming community in the Ejura-Sekyedumase District in the Ashanti Region, Dr Obeng-Antwi explained that most of the new maize varieties were developed for different purposes so “knowing that would greatly help the farmers in their activities.”
The forum formed part of activities of the SARD-SC programme, an initiative of the African Development Bank to introduce farmers to new maize varieties that are high-yielding, drought-resistant and more nutritious.
The programme, which is currently promoting two varieties of maize; ‘abontem’ and ‘omankwan’, is geared towards the promotion of early-maturing varieties, taking cognisance of the new weather pattern and effects of climate change on agricultural production.
Dr Obeng-Antwi noted that “it would not be advisable to sell maize meant for industrial purposes to domestic consumers, since such a variety might not have the required nutrients to promote growth and vice versa.”
The farmers commended the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for introducing the programme, which they said had exposed them to new and early-maturing seed varieties.
They, however, appealed for support to get direct access to industries and exporters who could purchase their produce to enable them to maximise profit. The farmers claimed that middlemen usually bought the produce cheaply from them and resold them at high prizes, thereby short-changing them.