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Business News of Monday, 31 July 2017

Source: GNA

'Frafra' Potatoes could be a national crop – Research Institute

The Frafra potatoes are sugar free and very nutritious. The Frafra potatoes are sugar free and very nutritious.

Dr Francis Kusi, the research team leader of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), has said the Institute is expanding its education programme on the propagation of the Frafra potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius poir) to cover the entire country.

He said the Frafra potato had an advantage over its counterpart the sweet potato as it is sugar free and nutritious and could be used as a national crop.

The Institute would expand its education programme, on how to use the stem to grow the crop apart from the traditional method of using the seed, to cover more farmers, he said.

Dr Kusi was speaking at a workshop on Thursday, organized by the institute to educate the National Variety Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC) on the crop, at Manga in the Upper East Region.

He said the indigenous farmer would benefit from the crop as it is more profitable than the sweet potato and could be used to prepare tuo zaafi, porridge and bread. It is also delicious, eaten with pepper, gravy or groundnut soup.

Dr Kusi said the Frafra potato, which is a lesser known and under exploited stem food crop, is limited due to lack of technology to change the traditional production practices.

He said more agriculture extension officers are needed in the three regions of the north to disseminate new agriculture findings, monitor and supervise the work of farmers so as to expand production and called on Government to establish an agriculture training college in the region.

He said the crop was however facing challenges such as deterioration in storage, lack of healthy and reliable planting materials, pests and diseases and called on farmers to participate in the training to enable them plant the crop in the next farming season.

Reverend John Manu, the Upper East Regional Director of Agriculture, commended the research institute and said a boost in the production of the Frafra potato would go a long way to reduce poverty in the area.

He called on the youth to go into cropping the potato as it was a good source of employment that would put money in their pockets.

The Frafra potato is an old indigenous crop grown in many parts of northern Ghana. Its production has over the years declined but it is still a delicacy in many homes when it is in season in November and December. It also serves as a good affordable lunch package for workers.