From Seedlings to Success:A Pepper Revolution?

genebank online
  29 September 2023 11:46am

At Bosuso, a farming community nestled amidst rolling hills in the Fanteakwa South District of the Eastern Region, where agriculture is the backbone of the local economy, a change story is unfolding, driven by a simple yet powerful initiative: distributing pepper seedlings to local farmers.

The Trial of Improved Practices (TIPs) methodology through which the use of the pepper diversity of the Ghana Genebank is being promoted is premised on engaging smallholder farmers through the District Agriculture Department (DAD) to select at least five (5) promising pepper genotypes out of 19 for trials on their own fields. Through the TIPs approach, it is hoped that farmers will pass on their improved seeds and use their acquired experiences to support and empower other farmers to cultivate resilient pepper genotypes using more sustainable, production practices. The TIPs project is part of the CSIR-Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute’s (PGRRI) efforts of promoting the direct use of its vegetable crop collections for addressing production, livelihood and food and nutrition security needs of smallholder vegetable farmers.

Here's how we're making happen

🌟Phase 1: The research team at the CSIR-PGRRI Characterised 19 pepper genotypes at its research fields at Bunso to understand their traits and growth habits. This phase became the heart of the initiative.

🌟Phase 2: The team presented the characterisation data in pictorial and graphical formats at a meeting of farmer group representatives and officers of the DAD at the Fanteakwa South District. The presentation highlighted traits like fruit shape, fruit colour, yield potential and days to maturity. Following the presentation, participants at the meeting jointly selected five (5) promising genotypes for trials by farmers. The genotypes were selected on the basis of their suitability to the climate, domestic use needs and market preferences within the operational areas of the farmers and DAD officers.

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πŸš€The Result so far
Transformation begins: Over time, the once-small seedlings grew into vigorous pepper plants which were successfully distributed to 50 volunteer farmers for trials. The farmers planted the seedlings on their fields with some as sole crops, and others intercropped with either maize or okra.

Economic impact: It is already harvesting time for most farmers. Farmers not only meet their own consumption needs but are also cashing in on their surplus pepper fruits in local markets. “I have already made GhS 80.00 from selling the genotype number E (GH 10554). I am already excited about the future because when exporters come to pick two or three of the genotypes for us to produce, it will change my life for good”.

πŸ“ˆCommunity Flourishes
Word of the pepper success story has started spreading, attracting neighbouring farmers who are already expressing interest in the seeds. The next steps will be for the farmers to share their seeds with other farmers (testing the community seedbank concept) and produce for the next season. Exporters of pepper fruits and products would also be invited to select exportable genotypes for multiplication and scaling up.

🌾The project team [Joseph Bandanaa (PhD); Ms. Amanda A. Amissah; Ms. Sandra G. Amoama; Matilda Bissah (PhD) and Daniel A. Kotey (PhD)] would like to thank our collaborating partner, the Fanteakwa South DAD, the Director, Mr Ayer Alfred, and staff, especially Mr. Samuel Awuku for their support and technical backstopping with the volunteer farmers. To all farmers who volunteered to participate in this project. Ayekoo!

The CSIR PGRRI as the national genebank offers a diversity of seeds of minimum quantity to farmers, breeders, and researchers for free.

The overall goal of the TIPs initiative is to promote sustainable agricultural development by empowering farmers, breeders, and researchers to use the plant diversity of the Genebank. Most importantly, exploiting the diversity conserved to solve the everyday problems faced by the Ghanaian smallholder vegetable farmer.