UCC develops new cowpea varieties

BY: Timothy Gobah
•Professor Richard Akromah,a Senior lecturer at KNUST (third right) and members of the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee inspecting the cowpea variety
•Professor Richard Akromah,a Senior lecturer at KNUST (third right) and members of the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee inspecting the cowpea variety

A senior lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Professor Richard Akromah, has called on the College of Agriculture and Natural Science of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) to develop a product guide on the new variety of crops the college has researched into.

He said besides organising training programmes for farmer groups, it was necessary for the university to come up with product guides and labelling indicating seed gestation periods and the type of soils that would enhance high crop yields.

Prof. Akromah made the suggestion when he led a team from the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee, to inspect cowpea varieties released by the university.

Breeds of cowpea

The university presented eight varieties of cowpea to the committee for them to select viral, drought resistant, high yielding and early maturing genotypes that farmers could cultivate widely in agro-ecological zones in the country and to meet consumer needs.

Prof. Akromah said out of the eight products submitted, the committee selected four that had attributes of the other four which also would in turn go through the process of selection and endorsement.

“We have agreed that four of the materials presented have passed the test, uniformity and yields which are advantageous to the farmer,” he said.

The varieties found to be more drought and disease resilient and high yielding would be released to seed production companies for onward distribution to farmers in the country after certification and approval by the National Seed Council (NSC).

“The cowpea project is funded by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and is being carried out in some communities in northern and southern Ghana,” he said.  

The project is being organised in collaboration with the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute (PGRRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the University of Virginia in the USA.

Prof. Akromah appealed to the MoFA to resource agriculture institutions adequately and also pay regular visits to farmers and guide them on ways to improve their yields.

Commendation

Prof. Akromah commended the team from the UCC for the research and asked them to extend it to other crops.

A Plant Biotechnologist and leader of the research team, Prof. Aaron Asare, said the selection of climate resilient and high yielding cowpea genotypes adaptable to the coastal savannah would complement production in the three regions of the north, where drought was a major challenge.

“This would contribute towards food security and poverty reduction in line with the government’s agriculture programme, Planting for Food and Jobs,” he said.