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USAID plants 1.5 million Orange Flesh Sweet Potato vines in northern region




The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has planted 1.5 million Orange Flesh Sweet Potato (OFSP) seedlings through its Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING) project as part of efforts to improve nutritional needs of children in the region.

The USAID’s effort comes on the heels of worrying statistics of mothers and children lacking Vitamin A supplements in the region. As evidence,  in 2014 demographic and health survey indicated that, nearly half of women in the northern region are anemic. The survey also put the region as having the highest percentage of women with severe anemia in Ghana.

Additionally, the survey also pointed to the fact that only 55% of mothers in Ghana are receiving Vitamin A supplementation within two months after childbirth, as prescribed. The survey also revealed that, 44% of children under-five years have received a Vitamin A supplement in the past 6 months compared to 65% nationwide.

Vitamin A deficiencies, according to WHO, is the cause of night blindness; indeed, 7.5% of Ghanaian women of reproductive age, 15 to 49 years, are affected with night blindness. It is against this backdrop that the USAID in 2015 in partnership with UDS piloted the OFSP project and distributed about 100,000 vines of “Alaafee Wulijo” to 350 women for cultivation.

Over 20,000 kilograms of OFSP were harvested from 6 acres of land after the women were trained in the harvesting and utilization of the crop and its consumption so as to improve complementary feeding for children aged 6-23 months.

The Alaafee Wulijo project which is the US government’s Feed The Future global hunger and food security initiative has been scaled up to reach more than 3,000 vulnerable households in 17 districts in the northern region.

Mr Philip LeyMay, the USAID Chief of Party, who announced this in Tamale at a press briefing on RING project said the scale up was to encourage all stakeholders in agriculture in the north on the need to cultivate orange flesh sweet potato.

Mr LeyMay therefore urged the people in the northern region to show keen interest in the cultivation and consumption of orange flesh sweet potato.

Three local celebrities, Mustapha Maigah known in showbiz as TM, Alhassan Mariwan (D-almar) and Adam Salma (princess Chizzy) demonstrate their interest and support for the project composed a Dagbani song, titled; “Yimiyana Ka ti Ko’’ which means “Come out and let’s farm.”

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