Dr Joe Manu-Aduening, Plant Breeder/Agronomist has advised cassava farmers to consult Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs) and the Crop Research Institute (CRI) for the necessary information before cultivating the crop for optimal yield.
Now cassava is no longer a food crop cultivated by peasant farmers only but also as an industrial, commercial raw material with a very high value for multi-purpose use, he said.
Cassava could be used for the production of industrial starch for the lumber and textile industries, alcoholic beverages and also chemicals for the manufacturing of drugs.
Dr Manu-Aduening gave the advice in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) after a day’s workshop for farmers as well as a field day under the West African Virus Epidemiology under the Root and Tuber Crops Project, at Bechem in the Tano South District of the Brong-Ahafo Region.
The Project, being implemented by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and CRI was funded jointly by the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The 90 participants were from the Ahafo North and South Districts in the Ashanti Region, the Asunafo North Municipality, Tano North, Tano South and Sunyani West Districts in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
Each district was represented by 10 farmers, four AEAs and the Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) Directorate
It is a nationwide programme which started in January 2015 to end in 2017 as phase one of the Project and cassava farmers in five districts in the Volta Region have already being trained.
Besides educating the participants on the nature of various cassava diseases, signs and symptoms for their identification and measures to prevent outbreak, they were also sensitised about the importance of using disease free planting materials to improve and increase cassava yield.
Dr Manu-Aduening, also a Principal Research Scientist and Deputy Director at CSIR-CRI said: “Cassava has different varieties, different yields and different drying matter.”
He said 24 different varieties had been released.
Dr Allen Oppong, Research Scientist with CRI told the GNA about the outbreak of Cassava Brown Streak Virus in East Africa, which remained very dangerous and endemic.
He asked the farmers to destroy all their crops when they suspected outbreak and inform the AEA or the office of MoFA for further advice and control measures.