The University of Cape Coast (UCC) has introduced improved varieties of cowpea to some farmers in the Cape Coast Metropolis at a training session at the A. G. Carson Teaching and Research Farms.
During the training session known as Farmers Field Day (FFD), the farmers were given the opportunity to select the best improved cowpea varieties of their choice to be developed for planting in their respective farms. The training programme was to educate and expose the farmers to cowpea cultivation and the economic benefits of the crop. It was aimed at encouraging farmers to make informed decisions to select cowpeas of their choice on the field.
The FFD forms part of a project being undertaken by a research team involving Scientists from the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences (UCC) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the University of Cape Coast. It is being sponsored by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture “(ITPGRFA), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the University of Cape Coast. Through this project, the Scientists have developed over 22 varieties of cowpea with distinctive features out of which six (6) would soon be released to farmers.
Briefing the farmers before the field work, the Project Manager, Dr. Aaron T. Asare of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology said cowpea production in the country was very low in spite of the high consumption of the crop in Ghana. He noted that the nutritional value of the crop was very healthy compared to meat adding that “Cowpea is consumed in most homes in Ghana and it is common to find people patronising waakye and gari and beans”. He however expressed worry that most of the cowpea consumed in the country were imported from Burkina Faso and Niger to supplement that of the local market.
Dr. Asare explained that the improved varieties have only eight weeks to mature and will be ready for harvest. He also noted that other varieties of the crop have been developed for the Northern part of the country. He stressed that the cowpea varieties that had been developed were resistant to diseases and drought.