Soya beans project launched in Northern Ghana

BY: Mohammed Fugu
• Mr. Yaw Frimpong (in smock), Deputy Minister of Agriculture, and other guests inspecting a warehouse for the project
• Mr. Yaw Frimpong (in smock), Deputy Minister of Agriculture, and other guests inspecting a warehouse for the project

A Four-year sustainable soya bean project has been launched in Tamale to promote the production of the cash crop and improve on food security in Northern Ghana.

Dubbed "Sustainable Soya Bean Production in Northern Ghana (SSPiNG)", the project is being implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), YARA Ghana and WAGENINGEN University.

It seeks to facilitate public private partnership (PPP) on the output and input market, train smallholder farmers on best agronomy practices and provide mechanisation and financial services to farmers to increase soya beans production.

About 400,000 smallholder farmers in the five regions of the northern belt are expected to benefit from the project, while about 150 agricultural extension officers will be engaged to facilitate and disseminate information to beneficiary farmers.

Food security

Presenting the overview of the project at the launch in Tamale last Thursday, the Coordinator of SSPiNG, Professor Samuel Adjei-Nsiah, indicated that the project was in line with the government's Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) which sought to promote food security in the country.

He said aside from promoting sustainable soya beans production, it would also boost the income levels of the people of the area, particularly small holder farmers.

A Deputy Minister of Agriculture in charge of Crop Production, Mr. Yaw Frimpong, who launched the project, underscored the need to link the smallholder farmers to the inputs and outputs market, finance, equipment and information through larger commercial farmers and aggregators who had the capacity to invest in smallholder production.

He noted that Ghana's annual soya beans market demand was more than 300,000 metric tonnes, with a corresponding annual production capacity of 180,000 metric tonnes, which was far less than the market demand.

More investment

That, he noted, called for more investment in the sector to increase production and meet the market demand.

"About 87 per cent of the annual soya beans demand in the country is for industrial purposes, of which 67 per cent is used for animal feed, especially in the poultry industry," Mr. Frimpong added.

He commended IITA and its partners for initiating the project and urged the beneficiaries to take it serious to increase soya beans production and their income levels.

For her part, the Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Ingrid Mollestad, said the SSPiNG had the potential to increase food security, jobs and foreign exchange for Ghana.

She said the Norwegian government was glad to partner Ghana to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and pledged their continual support to the country, especially in agriculture.