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USAID to scale up cultivation of Orange Flesh Sweet Potato in the northern region



The Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mr Andy Karas has assured beneficiary communities under the Resiliency In Northern Ghana (RING ) project that, the project will be scaled up in the coming years to cover more farmers, particularly women in northern Ghana.

The USAID intention to scale up the project is due to the yields of the Orange Flesh Sweet Potato (OFSP) which are reducing hunger, malnutrition and improving good health among residents, especially children in the beneficiary districts in the region.

In August this year, 2,000 women farmers from 70 communities across the northern region planted 1.5 million orange-flesh sweet potato seedlings known in Dagbani as Alaafee Wuljo provided to them by the USAID-RING project.

The USAID Mission Director disclosed this to Zaa News at the Nyensung community, during the start of the first two months harvesting of Alaafee Wuljo across more than 100 acres in 17 communities in the region.

Mr. Karas, who visited the OFSP farms, believed that with the government of Ghana’s support and the commitment of both local authorities and farmers themselves, poverty in rural areas will be eradicated. Women farmers at Nyensung told the USAID Mission director that their major challenge is lack of money to buy fertilizers for their farms to improve yields.

But Mr. Karas said the USAID is collaborating with some private banks through a program called Financing Agricultural Development, which mobilizes lending for agriculture to enable farmers to access agro-chemicals and fertilizer.

The USAID mission director urged district assemblies, communities and institutions such as the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Regional Co-ordinating Council to sustain the resources necessary to transform agriculture to enhance economic growth.

“I know the government of Ghana has made significant public investment in agriculture and it’s important because agriculture around the globe is key in unlocking economic growth” Mr. Karas said.

OFSP Presidential initiative 

A lecturer at the Agriculture Department of the University for Development Studies, Dr Francis Kwaku Amagloh said in order to get better yields there is the need to improve inter-cropping with leguminous crops.

The intake of vitamin A in Ghana, Dr Francis noted, is low hence the need for children to be given the right food supplement.

It will be recalled that Dr. Amagloh called for presidential investment in the cultivation of OFSP to help end malnutrition among children in the country.  OFSP improves the diet intake of Vitamin A, especially among pregnant women. The crop according to Dr. Amagloh has two major benefits.

This, the lecturer noted when given a presidential support will encourage farmers to cultivate on a large scale for industries and share returns will enhance their economic well-being.

The district chief executive for Gushegu, Mr. Abdulai Seidu stated that the Gushiegu district assembly in collaboration with RING is making it possible to make the production of Orange Flesh Sweet Potato (OFSP) known to other communities within their catchment areas.

OFSP, he said, is very nutritious and has the potential to reduce malnutrition in the district.

A farmer, Madam Azara Fuseini told Zaa News the OFSP has helped them (farmers) in providing nutritional balance to their children. “We started cultivating orange flesh sweet potato last year and since then we have seen both health and nutritional benefits,” Madam Azara confessed, and urged USAID not to relent in its effort to support farmers.

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