The Deputy Savanna Regional Minister, Mr Samuel Y. Tika, has charged Agriculture Extension Officers to work closely with farmer' groups to ensure widespread Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) availability and sustainability to boost nutrition.
The call followed inauguration of the Potato nurseries initiated by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Kiape in the Bole-Bamboi District where the agriculture officers were tasked to help farmers to ensure continuous production of the crop to improve lives of beneficiaries.
The OFSP nurseries have boreholes, shed fitted with solar panels for distribution and pumping of water, stand pipes and water tank receptacles, watering cans and fencing to ensure safety of the crops.
It is expected to serve as multiplier centres for vines equipped with solar-powered irrigation units to ensure all-year-round farming and supply to beneficiary communities for planting in farms and backyards.
Mr Tika noted that Vitamin A deficiency and under-nutrition limited the intellectual potential of individuals and also undermined their economic and social development.
He called on the WFP and other partner organizations to sensitise beneficiaries about the range of food preparation approaches of OFSP product.
The product is said to contain abundant vitamin A and could be used by families to prepare flour, which in combination with wheat flour and additional ingredients could be used to make donuts, porridge and other food types.
The Minister said government had prioritised agriculture as the best tool for job creation and to put the economy on a sound footing by subsidising agriculture inputs like fertilizer and seeds for easy access by farmers.
The One Village One Dam (1V1D) programme was reported by the Mr Tika to have commenced in the Bole-Bamboi District to ensure all-year-round farming.
Madam Rukia Yacoub, World Food Programme's Representative and Country Director, said the OFSP programme had been piloted in the Northern, Savanna and Upper West regions.
It is under a collaborative programme between Women in Agriculture Directorate (WIAD) of the Northern Regional Agricultural Department, the International Potato Centre (IPC) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
She said the programme started in 2017 and was aimed at improving nutrition of the vulnerable in Northern Ghana. It would provide income-generation opportunities for smallholder farmers involved in the cultivation of the crop.
She called on stakeholders to support the programme in order to cover the rest of the districts in northern parts of the country.
Madam Yacoub indicated that about 120,000 OFSP vines were distributed to 10,000 smallholder women farmer groups comprising of 320 women and 4 male Secretaries from Bole, Mampurugu, Nadowli Kaleo and Lawra Districts.
They have been trained by Women in Agriculture Development and Ghana Heath Service on how to produce, add value, and cook with OFSP leaves and root tubers.
The beneficiaries would intend train others since they were taught under the training of trainers' module.
To ensure sustainability of the project, Madam Yacoub said women have been equipped with skills and basic technical knowledge, which would enable them to manage the OFSP sites after the pilot phase.