The Crops Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-CRI) has released six new cassava varieties onto the market for adoption by farmers.
The new varieties, CRI-Duade kpapka; CRI-Amansan; CRI-AGRA Bankye; CRI-Dudzi; CRI-Abrabopa and CRI-Lamesese are high yielding, drought and pest resistant and have high nutritional and commercial values.
They were developed through a $300, 000 grant and technical support from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
This brings to 17, the number of cassava varieties released by the CRI.
At the release of the new varieties last Thursday, the Director of CRI, Dr Stella Ama Ennin, said the new varieties had high starch content and dry material and good for industrial purposes, particularly for the brewery and textile industries.
Touching on the qualities of the Lamesese variety, Dr Ennin said, aside its rich beta-carotene content, it was good for human consumption and could be used for fufu.
According to her, most of the varieties were suitable for the current climatic conditions prevailing in the country and high yielding between 25 to 60 tonnes per hectare.
She said the release was in line with the institute’s new vision which “is to become the centre of excellence for agricultural research, innovation and capacity building for development.”
Dr Ennin was grateful to the AGRA for the assistance and appealed to the private sector, particularly those in the cassava value chains, to partner with the institute to ensure that the planting materials got to the smallholder farmers for adoption.
The Chief Research Scientist at CSIR, Prof. Paa Nii Johnson, said cassava had the potential to change the fortunes of the country if well developed and given same assistance and support.
“Its potential to supply raw materials for local and international starch-based industries is gaining prominence and currently, cassava is being processed into starch, high quality cassava flour, adhesives for wood industry and alcoholic beverages and feed for livestock,” he said.
He said the crop was the major staple in sub-Saharan Africa supporting some 600 million people with carbohydrates.
According to him, “it is currently the number one food staple and the most widely cultivated crop in Ghana and occupies 840,000 hectares of farmland and contributes about 22 per cent to Ghana’s GDP.”
As such, he said, it was important the crop was fortified against the ravages of drought, disease and pest and to enhance its nutritional content.
Prof. Johnson said over the years, cassava had changed from the traditional food crop to an important industrial crop, adding, “it has also been identified as an important crop in Ghana that could generate desired economic growth and alleviate poverty.”
He said the new varieties, when disseminated and adopted by farmers, would increase cassava production by at least 30 per cent and also help to create jobs for both rural and urban population engaged in cassava production and processing.