A team of researchers from the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, University of Cape Coast, has introduced inmates of the Ankaful Maximum Prison and some farmers in the Komenda Edina Eguafo Abrem (KEEA) Municipal Assembly in the Central Region to 24 varieties of cowpea.
The Cowpea Project which is aimed at identifying high yielding and disease resistant variety will later be released to seed production companies for onward distribution to farmers in Ghana.
It is in the light of this that a “Farmers Field Day” was organised for the Prison Officers, inmates, and some farmers in the KEEA municipality to select their preferred variety of the cowpea. The team supervised the cultivation of 24 varieties of the cowpea by inmates of the Ankaful Prison on a three acre farmland behind the facility. A similar exercise was carried out in some communities in the Northern part of Ghana and at the University Research Farm in 2016.
The Cowpea Project which is funded by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the University of Cape Coast (UCC) is being carried out in some communities in the Northern and Southern parts of Ghana. Collaborators for the project are the Savannah Agricultural Research (SARI) and Plant Genetic Resources Research Institutes (PGRRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the University of Virginia, USA.
Briefing Journalist during the programme, the Project Manager, Dr. Aaron T. Asare, explained that the project was extended to the Ankaful Maximum Prisons, because cowpea formed a great component of their diet, hence, the need to expose the new varieties to them in order to select the most suitable crop for cultivation. He expressed gratitude to management of Ankaful Maximum Prisons for collaborating with the team to successfully carry out the Farmer Field Day on their land. “Cowpea is the cheapest source of protein for everyone both in rural and urban communities in Ghana”, he revealed.
Dr. Asare explained that in terms of climate and land, Ghana had the right climatic condition and adequate land for the cultivation of cowpea to meet the demands of the nation and also for export. “Given the needed support, the University of Cape Coast through this project can help the nation to produce enough cowpea throughout the year,” he stressed. In view of that, he appealed to government to factor cowpea as one of the crops for its flagship programme “Planting for Food and Jobs”.
Some of the farmers who took part in the exercise were full of praise to the University for extending the project to them. They noted that it would help ensure food sufficiency in the nation and also improve their livelihood.
Members of the Cowpea team are
Dr. Aaron T. Asare (Plant Biotechnologist and Breeder)
Prof. Isaac K. A. Galyuon (Plant Physiologist, Biostatistician, Molecular Biologist)
Dr. Sheila Tagoe (Microbiology/ Molecular Biologist)
Mr. David C. Adukpo (Microbiology/Molecular Biologist)
Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako (Plant Virologist/ Agronomist)
Prof. B. A. Mensah (Entomologist)
Prof. Michael P. Timko (Molecular Biologist, University of Virginia, USA)
Dr. K. Adjei-Frimpong (Soil Scientist)
Dr. (Mrs.) Genevive Adukpo (Organic Chemist, Natural Products)
Dr. Francis Kusi (Agronomist/ Molecular Entomologist, SARI)
Dr. Lawrence M. Aboagye (Plant Physiologist/Biodiversity Conservationist, PGRRI)