The College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences at the University of Cape Coast has developed seven new cowpea varieties.
The seven new varieties, according to the researchers have improved genetic traits including Striga-resistance, tolerance to viruses and drought; and also have early maturity traits.
At a news conference at the University of Cape Coast to outdoor the new varieties, Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah indicated that the breakthrough by researchers of the university will contribute significantly to Ghana’s food security and also help in government’s planting for food and jobs program.
“This breakthrough in the release of seven varieties of cowpea has come at a good time and we at the University of Cape Coast believe this will help promote the production of cowpea in the country and create jobs. This is the contribution of the University of Cape Coast to government’s Planting for Food and Jobs program,” he said.
The Vice-Chancellor lauded the cowpea research team of the university and its collaborators for the release of seven new varieties of cowpea. He was confident the increasing population growth in Ghana coupled with traditional and industrial processes naturally craved for increases in cowpea production and this feat has been achieved at the right time.
“Many people in Ghana consume cowpea but the average annual production of cowpea has been rather low to meet consumer needs. The release of the cowpea production is a major boost to our food security,” he assured.
Principal Investigator and head of the research team, Prof. Aaron Tettey Asare highlighted the major challenges confronting cowpea production in the country as parasitic weed, viruses, rusts and root rots which often lead to significant yield loss.
“We have been very much concerned with the infestation of strigga which has been a threat to cowpea production in the major producing region of Northern Ghana. We thus advanced this project in collaboration with other institutions to carry out breeding and also develop these new cowpea varieties,” he explained.
Dr. Augusta Agyei Frimpong of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Vocational and Technical Education, explained how the new cowpea varieties have been turned into different products including biscuits, cakes and drinks. She hoped government could adopt the drink that has been made from the cowpea under the 1D1F to promote the Made-in-Ghana agenda of government.
The cowpea research team of the University of Cape Coast headed by Prof. Aaron T. Asare had several collaborators. They include Savanna Agriculture Research Institute (SARI), Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and the University of Virginia, USA; and funded by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as well as the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
Prof. Asare pleaded with government to sponsor the production of certified seeds to ensure that outcome of researches conducted in the sector impact society.
The new varieties are namely; Asare-Moya, Kum Zoya, Saka-Buro, Aluba-Kpole, UCC-Early and Yor-Kpitio.