Some Frafra potato farmers in the Upper East Region are gradually adopting a new climate smart technology in cultivating the Frafra potatoes to improve household food security and incomes.
The Frafra potato, an improved variety of the regular potato, was introduced to the farmers by the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI) of the CSIR to help them produce in large quantities to solve the food insecurity problem.
Mr Anthony Minyella, a farmer at the Talensi District and a seed multiplier who nursed and distributed the vines to his colleagues, said the new technology was beneficial.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga, he said he had raised 18 beds of the vines for transplanting but lost some of them in a waterlogged area of the farm.
Some of the farmers who adopted the technology had challenges with producing the crop, which had slowed down the adoption rate of the technology, adding: “It is not easy for farmers to adopt new technologies and I know it will take some time.”
Last year the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the SARI, at the Manga Agricultural Station in the Bawku Municipality, exposed farmers to the frafra potatoes variety using new technologies.
Mr Matthew Sulemana, the Talensi District Director, Department of Agriculture, said to increase farmers’ interest, the technology was further carried out at the office premises in a nursery and the vines were distributed to those who had not heard about the technology.
He said the crop was doing well this year and the farmers would have a good harvest.
Mr Joseph Adjabui, the Nabdam District Director of Agric., told the GNA that a group of 12 farmers from Gane-Asonge, Dakotu, Kotintabig and the Kong-Dabori communities were cultivating the crop.
He said the Frafra potato did well on marginal soil and even though it was a traditional crop it was not among the major ones that farmers cultivated, with most farmers cultivating it in their backyard or on small portions of land for household consumption.
“It could also be stored and sold later at a good price,” he said. Mr Sulemana added for farmers to cultivate it in large quantities, they would need an assurance of a good market.
The Frafra potato is a delicacy in the Upper East Region and some parts of the North East Region. Its tastes like the French potato but has a stronger flavour.
This special food crop has existed for dozens of years, maybe even centuries. Until now, the methods used by farmers to cultivate Frafra Potato was the traditional way which involved using tubers, but the SΑRI of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research [CSIR] has since the year 2018, been working to introduce new, improved varieties of the crop.
The institute has identified the Frafra Potato as key to helping reduce hunger in communities. There are now five varieties of Frafra Potato, which can also be cultivated using stem cuttings instead of tubers.
Acting Director and Senior Research Scientist at the SARI of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Tamale, Dr. Francis Kusi, believes that the Frafra Potato has great potential, but it is being underutilized.
Francis Kusi said “Frafra Potato is one of the underutilized crops which has great food value, nutritional value, and even medicinal value. The technology that we developed to facilitate its production on a large scale through the stem cutting approach; we believe will help the farmer in this region.”