The Crops Research Institute (CRI) at Fumesua is stepping up efforts to encourage increased cultivation and consumption of nutritious and indigenous root food staples in the country.
In line with that, the Institute has through research and innovation, developed and released four new tasty taro (“brobey”/ “kooko”), scientifically known as (colocasia esculenta) and four new water yam (“Afaase”), varieties to help boost their production and consumption in the country.
The aim is not only to help reduce food importation, but also boost the intake of the tropical, traditional staples, to improve the health of the people while increasing the incomes of local farmers.
A 2017 annual report made available to the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi, indicated that the development and release of the new varieties of the indigenous food crops, was to help rejuvenate the plantation of the crops, which were almost becoming extinct, as a result of disease infections.
According to the report, the cultivation of taro, one of the important food security and income generating crops in Ghana, was bedevilled with Taro Leaf Blight Disease (TLBD), which was almost leading to the extinction of the crop.
“Management measures such as chemical and cultural controls, was largely ineffective and hence breeding for disease-resistant varieties, was identified as the most sustainable approach to manage the TLBD”, the report stated.
The report added that, the future of taro in Ghana depended on the availability of improved cultivars.
The new crops, which were the first scientifically improved taro to be released in Ghana, were developed by the Institute, with sponsorship from the International Network for Edible Aroids (INEA) and the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP).
According to the report, the varieties—CRI-Huogbelor, CRI-Asempa, CRI-Agyenkwa and CRI-Yen Anya woa, were tolerant to the taro leave blight disease.
They have the potential to produce between 12-25 tones, per hectare and corm dry matter content of 33-42 per cent.
They can be used to prepare ‘ampesi’, ‘fufu’, chunk-fried, crispy chips, flour, starch and varied bakery products.
According to the report, the four new water yams were released after 10 years of trials.
The varieties are CRI-Afaase Adepa, CRI-Afaase Hoodenfo, CRI-Afaase Biri and CRI-Afaase Soanyinto.
The report indicated that the new varieties were not only nutritious, high yielding and pest-resistant, but “were also improved versions of water yam varieties currently on the market”.
They possessed very high starch content and could be processed to be used for various forms of delicacies such as, iced cream and noodles.
According to the report, the new varieties were declared safe for diabetic patients and could be used as substitute for white yam.
It pointed out that the high demand for water yam in neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Cot d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger, presented a huge potential for Ghana to produce water yam seedlings for export.