Promoting indigenous leafy vegetables: CSIR engage farmers on participatory germplasm evaluation

genebank online
  3 May 2024 12:54pm

Institutes under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) undertaking the “Seed for Resilience” project, have engaged farmers to update and take feedback on indigenous leafy vegetables production meant to enhance healthy dietary eating.

The Crops Research Institute (CRI) and the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute (PGRRI) are undertaking the project, which is aimed at ensuring that indigenous leafy vegetables are sustainably produced by farmers and made available to the public as part of efforts to ensure food security in the country.

The project is being funded by the Crop Trust.

Over the last two years, 20 assertions each of amaranth (Aleefu), Corchorus (Ayoyo) and Hibiscus (Sule) had been supplied by the CSIR-PGRRI to the CSIR-CRI to research and multiply them.

The selections are now being multiplied to be supplied back to the farmers for planting.

Dr. Daniel Ashie Kotey, Director of CSIR- PRRIG, at the Seed for Resilience germplasm user group feedback and Review workshop at Fumesua near Ejisu in the Ashanti Region, noted that, these vegetables were important and constituted essential sections in the diets of Ghanaians.

Farmers, agricultural officers and researchers drawn from Barekese and Boadi attended the workshop, which gave updates and the way forward of the project.

Indigenous leafy vegetables according to Dr Kotey, were important for combating climate change and promoting healthy diet, food and nutrition security in the country.

He said although they were essential in nutrients like iron, phosphorus, zinc and folic acid, the focus had always been on exotic vegetables with some people throwing away these vegetables in favour of the exotic vegetables.

This had been a great concern to the research institute because some of these crops (indigenous leafy vegetables) have developed their unique characteristics over a period and suited to Ghana’s agricultural system.

Director of the Crops Research Institute, Prof Moses Brandford Mochiah appealed to stakeholders to support the Plant Genetic Resources and Research Institute with funding to perform their duties.

Dr. Kotey indicated that the diversity researchers were bringing and evaluating with the farmers contained useful genes that tolerated pests and diseases, saying farmers did not have to spray against these pests and diseases.

Dr. Patricia Pinamang Acheampong, Principal Research Scientist, CSIR-CRI, assured Ghanaians of researchers’ steadfast actions in making the diversity of useful indigenous leafy vegetables available to farmers for cultivation in a very sustainable manner to the benefit of themselves and the public.

She said these crops were very useful in combating many health challenges citing roselle, as one which had become popular for its use for the ‘Sobolo drink’.

Dr. Acheampong pointed out that, one main challenge by farmers in the peri-urban areas where these vegetables are mostly grown had been land acquisition.

According to her, these leafy vegetables were cultivated in lowlands and these same lands were being filled for building purposes, so it normally becomes impossible for continuous cropping in these areas.

Professor Moses Brandford Mochiah, Director, CSIR-CRI, called on the government and policymakers to prioritize national funding for the PGRRI, which was dedicated to germplasm (genetic resources such as seeds, tissues and DNA sequences that were maintained for plant and animal breeding purposes, conservation and utilization goals.