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Business News of Wednesday, 16 September 2015


CSIR-Crops Research Institute releases 12 crop varieties

The Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has released twelve new crop varieties onto the market.

Four cowpea, seven maize varieties and a new rice variety capable to withstand hash weather conditions were released on Friday.

The varieties are made up of different types of hybrids that are adapted to the major agro-ecologies especially in these times of climate change challenges.

Authorities at the research institute explain that the new varieties are in line with current national issues-climate change and malnutrition.

The intensity of the climate change effects for instance have become severe threatening food security in Ghana because the rains have escaped most farmers in recent months.

It is therefore prudent to develop early and extra early maturing varieties or drought tolerant varieties.
The four new cowpea varieties are drought and pest resistance. They have shorter maturity period compared to the existing ones on the market.

It was named “Agyinkwa” meaning saviour because farmers were excited by the outcome during the experimental period. Local materials were used in the production so they can well adapt to the local environment.

Three of the seven maize varieties released – Crops Afriyie (named after Dr. S. Twumasi Afriyie), Crops Obotantim (meaning rock) and Crops Nkabom (meaning unity) – are drought tolerant.

Maturity period is 80 to 85 days better than the existing drought tolerant maize varieties with intermediate maturity of 110 days.
Director of the Crop Research Institute, Dr. Stella Ama Ennin, says these varieties are critical to achieve moderate yields in the midst of the climate change.

Malnutrition is one of the major issues Ghana has had to deal because it is a major contributor to child mortality.
They observe that there are limited availability of Vitamin A, Zinc and Iron.

According to Dr. Ennin, the researchers put these qualities in these new varieties to help address both infant and maternal nutritional needs.

Four of the seven maize varieties (Crop Nkunim meaning Unity, Crops Aho?dzin meaning Strength, Crop Aho?f? meaning Beauty and Crops Dzifoo meaning Eat Plenty) for instance are rich in pro-Vitamin A nutrients-good for children and nursing mothers.

This will in addition address the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health respectively.

Ghana, in recent times has been battling with huge import bills especially yellow maize and rice.

The country, for instance, has had to raise 500 million US dollars to import rice every year; situation researchers believe needs putting a stop to.
Dr. Stella Ama Ennin explains that researchers have a duty to ensure that these import bills reduce.

“So if you look at our efforts towards developing Yellow maize and rice, this is towards reducing the huge import bills that have saddled the nation,” she said.

Hence the development of the new Hybrid rice (ARIZE 6444 GOLD) and yellow maize (Crop Nkabom and Nkumin).
The Director has therefore implored government to pass the Plant Breeders Bill to address these challenges.

The bill will also ensure private participation to fund and promote new varieties to reach end users, because currently the institute rely mainly on foreign donor support to undertake new research due to unavailability of funds from government.

The crops have had to undergo stringent observation, analysis and recommendation for two consecutive occasions to assess the crops.

The varieties proposed for release fall under 4 major projects, namely Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa, HarvestPlus and WIENCO.
Bill and Melinda Gates foundation also funded part of the projects.