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Frafra Potato could be a national crop – SARI

By Jerry
Azanduna, GNA

Binduri-Manga (U/E), July 30, GNA – Dr Francis
Kusi, the research team leader of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI),
has said the Institute is expanding its education programme on the propagation
of the Frafra potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius poir) to cover the entire
country.

He said the Frafra potato had an advantage
over its counterpart the sweet potato as it is sugar free and nutritious and
could be used as a national crop.

The Institute would expand its education
programme, on how to use the stem to grow the crop apart from the traditional
method of using the seed, to cover more farmers, he said.

Dr Kusi was speaking at a workshop on
Thursday, organized by the institute to educate the National Variety Release
and Registration Committee (NVRRC) on the crop, at Manga in the Upper East
Region.

He said the indigenous farmer would benefit
from the crop as it is more profitable than the sweet potato and could be used
to prepare tuo zaafi, porridge and bread. It is also delicious, eaten with
pepper, gravy or groundnut soup.

Dr Kusi said the Frafra potato, which is a
lesser known and under exploited stem food crop, is limited due to lack of
technology to change the traditional production practices.

He said more agriculture extension officers
are needed in the three regions of the north to disseminate new agriculture
findings, monitor and supervise the work of farmers so as to expand production
and called on Government to establish an agriculture training college in the
region.

He said the crop was however facing challenges
such as deterioration in storage, lack of healthy and reliable planting
materials, pests and diseases and called on farmers to participate in the
training to enable them plant the crop in the next farming season.

Reverend John Manu, the Upper East Regional
Director of Agriculture, commended the research institute and said a boost in
the production of the Frafra potato would go a long way to reduce poverty in
the area.

He called on the youth to go into cropping the
potato as it was a good source of employment that would put money in their
pockets.

The Frafra potato is an old indigenous crop
grown in many parts of northern Ghana. Its production has over the years
declined but it is still a delicacy in many homes when it is in season in
November and December. It also serves as a good affordable lunch package for
workers.

GNA

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