The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute in Nyankpala, the northern region has discovered three new varieties of Orange Flesh Sweet Potato (OFSP). Scientists at the institute with support from the International Potato Center (CIP) conducted some trials of the plant breed in some parts of the three regions in the north to assess its performance and the nutritional composition and ensure it is accepted.
About six hundred farmers were involved for the assessment in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions. According to one of the Plant Breeders and Research fellow at CSIR, Dr Joseph Adjebeng Danprah explained that, the research was to establish benefits of an enhanced Orange Flesh Sweet Potato from the traditional breed that farmers use.
He said that the traditional sweet potato is white and in the white you get your carbohydrate and energy but lamented that, there are other essential nutrients you may not get like vitamin A. He noted this is normally found in palm oil, carrot and green leafy vegetables and others. “So when you have a sweet potato tuber that has vitamin A, even when you eat the sweet potato you will still get the vitamin A into your system instead of just the white, the purple flesh sweet potato also contain Antoinettes and this Antoinettes act as antioxidants that helps you to stay strong so that, cancers and those things in your system, you can help to fight those cancers, so that is one good thing about the purple flesh and Obari is a white flesh, high Dry Matter (DM) which we want to introduce and add on to what people are already cultivating, so it is not matter of we are taking people’s work away but what we have can we get something that would add more value to it, so if we are able to get more value then we add; so that we would have a lot of options, so that is what in the first place informed us, OK should we just settle for one that has Low Dry Matter or can we work on the Dry Matter even if they get a replacement why don’t they use that replacement to help, if you have the High Dry Matter; so that when you want the High Dry material you go for it or if you want the Low Dry material then you go for it, he stressed.”
Dr Joseph Adjebeng Danprah said there is no purple flesh sweet potato in the system now, adding that, once we get that purple flesh sweet potato, we would help satisfy that requirement.
However, the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee have accepted all the three varieties but urged the scientists working on the breeders to reconsider the names of the varieties. Again, they said the breeders should conduct further research on the varieties not purposely for release and that; they should also look at the bitter content before presenting it to the Seed Council among other guidelines.
Meanwhile, this was a moment of excitement for the Director of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute, Dr Stephen Nutsugah.
He was happy that, the three varieties that the CSIR propose have been accepted by the committee for release pending the submission of the technical document, so that they can also submit it to the Seed Council for their endorsement. “So basically, am happy because the three that we have propose for release, one is orange flesh, the second is purple color and the third one is white and they have specific niches for the northern sector of the country, so I am happy for the first time, the institute has been able to release sweet potato varieties to the farming communities of northern Ghana, he said.”
For his part, the Country Manager for the International Potato Center (CIP), Mr. Tom Van Mlourik revealed why CIP got involved in the research. He said they collaborated with SARI to work on the adoptability of these varieties in the northern part of Ghana. He expressed his happiness that, the Release Committee has given their approval. He assured that, CIP and SARI will continue to enhance their collaboration and they will also start to work with farmer organizations and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to promote these new varieties and improve nutrition for the rural and urban population of Ghana.
“We intend to do that vie the promotion of cultivation, improve practices, improve post-harvest storage in the household and also at the industrial level, he added.”
Story by: Mohammed Gadafi, northstarfmonline.com _ firstname.lastname@example.org