TRAX Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation promoting farming has introduced the cultivation of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) to help address the nutritional needs of children in the Upper East Region.
Health authorities have identified the Upper East Region as having nutrition problems particularly among children and women.
Speaking at a forum in Bolgatanga to share a baseline survey undertaken by the NGO to scale up the project in some farming communities in the Nabdam and Bongo Districts, the Director of TRAX, Mr Vincent Subbey disclosed that apart from the nutritional aspect of the crop, it would help address climate change problems in the area as well as promote food security.
He stated that OFSP has short maturity period of about three months and could be cultivated in any marginalized land and still provide good yields. He therefore encouraged farmers to go into the production of the crop to address their nutritional needs because of its high Vitamin A content.
According to him, his outfit last year piloted the crop with 50 farmers at Pelingu in the Nabdam District and said it intended scaling it up to 100 farmers in the Bongo and Nabdam Districts including schools and indicated that TRAX Ghana had procured and supplied some OFSP Vines to Notre Dame Senior High School to plant.
He indicated that the ultimate aim of encouraging schools to include the OFSP into their menu was to add nourishment to their food.
Mr Subbey further stated that the project which is being supported by Self Help Africa, a UK based Organization also intends to promote all year round farming of the crop in the Region.
The Director indicated that to help address the shortage of Veterinary Officers in the Region, TRAX Ghana through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had also trained some farmers in the area and equipped them with kits to treat minor diseases in animals and to refer major ones to the Veterinary Department.
The Baseline Survey which was conducted by a Consultant and Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Ghana, Dr Pascahal Atengdem confirmed the high nutritional status of the OFSP and recommended that Trax Ghana should add the “Frafara Patato” to the promotion.
The survey revealed that apart from the nutritional element of the OFSP crop, the leaves could be used to prepare soup, feed animals and make compost. It could also be used to prepare juice in large quantities for export.
The Survey mentioned some most likely challenges to be encountered by farmers as the unavailability of the OFSP Vines for the farmers to grow, insect infestation and attacks of the produce by millipedes and centipedes.
Participants who included MOFA staff, Women in Agriculture Development, Ghana Health Service, the Ghana Education Service, District Assemblies, the Media and other NGOs stressed the need for all stakeholders to actively get involved in the promotion of the crop to help address the problem of nutrition in the Region. GNA