An Agricultural Engineer with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Professor Emmanuel Y. H. Bobobee, has called on the government to invest in new and innovative technologies that support commercial food production to improve food security in Ghana.
Prof. Bobobee, a researcher, who has invented a mechanised cassava harvester, believed if the innovation was adopted, it would complement the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs flagship programme and make it more effective in creating more jobs as well as increase food production for industrial use for the country and beyond.
He made the call last Thursday at a one-day training and demonstration workshop by the KNUST Agriculture department for some 20 smallholder cassava farmers, processors, tractor operators and students working along the cassava value chain to introduce the new technology in cassava production to them at the institution’s farm at Anwomaso in the Ejisu Municipality.
The innovation was the outcome of an ongoing research programme aimed at improving agricultural production and reducing post-harvest losses.
The Post- Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction research is being implemented by a consortium of nine institutions, including KNUST, with funding from the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research and the Rockefeller Foundation in the United States of America(USA).
This mechanisation of cassava production innovation was aimed at reducing post-harvest losses, providing jobs as well as making the cassava production for industrial purposes efficient and less stressful.
He explained that the purpose for the research, which involved land preparation through to the production of cassava to the harvesting stage, was designed to ease the burden of farmers producing on a large scale for industrial use as well as smallholder farmers during harvest and also introduce best practice at the cultivation level.
Prof. Bobobee, who is the Department of Agriculture and Bio Systems Engineering of KNUST, was of the view that if the technology was adopted by the farmers and all those involved with the production of cassava, it would become a multi-dollar product across the continent of Africa.
He indicated that during the organic method of harvesting, most tubers of the cassava were lost in the soil, unlike the harvester which would harvest the cassava without losses and also prepare the land for another season of cultivation.
Mr Evans K Tweneboah of Josma Agro Industries Limited at Mampong Woraso, who was part of the farmers selected for the training, in an interview after the demonstration, said the new technology would greatly enable farmers to cultivate on a large scale and also save them from the difficulty and stressful situation associated with harvesting of cassava.
He encouraged farmers and all stakeholders working along the cassava value chain to adopt the new technology from production to harvesting stage to make their work easier and further increase cassava productions for commercial purposes as well as feed most of the industries within and outside the country.