The Upper West Regional Minister, Dr Ephraim Nsoh Avea, has tasked the various Municipal and District Assemblies in the region to, with immediate effect, adopt the cultivation and the production of the Butternut Squash plant which have been introduced at Metow in Lawra by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) in collaboration with the Africa Plus One investment limited.

The regional minister gave the directive at the training program on harvest and post harvest of Butternut Squash at Metow in the Lawra district of the Upper West region.

Dr. Avea Nsoh said he has been overwhelmed by what he saw at the project site and called for the effective implementation of the project on a large scale by the various assemblies in the Upper West Region especially where water is readily available.

He noted that the project has been able to generate employment in the catchment areas of its implementation.

This he said has reduced the mass exodus of the youth of the area in search of non-existent jobs in the southern half of the country.

‘‘The Butternut Squash plant has an already existing market especially in Europe and other parts of the world. There is the need for the project to succeed in the country especially in the three northern regions,’’ he added.

The Regional Minister said the project has the potential to deliver the people from the myriads of problems they face over the years and was particularly happy that not much research has gone into the project in terms of cost, and yet the returns and prospects have been massive.

He likened the situation of the discovery of oil in the country which started with several researches and long gestation periods which now resulted in the findings of oil, but said the Butternut Squash required little or no research but with bigger prospect.

The Upper West Regional Director of Agriculture, Faalong Yeng said the Ghana Living Standard Survey has painted a very dark picture for the region but said the introduction and harvest of the Butternut Squash plant has all the potentials to overturn this negative picture into something positive.

He said the project has already given over hundred people employment with only 42 acres of land being cultivated.

‘‘You must take advantage of the existence of the Black Volta and improve your standards of living’’, he charged.

The project coordinator of Africa Plus One Investment Limited, Dan Ahmed Issaka said the region has performed beyond expectation as compared to other areas.

He said the Butternut Squash is a hot cake in the world market.

According to him, the plant takes between 85 to 90 days for two and half acre land to harvest 30 metric tons, and between 20 and 22 containers make up for a ton. He said each container cost at Ghc 15,000.00.

He gave the assurance that the farmers stand a better chance to earn a better income every 90 days. He said the project when well implemented will succeed in diminishing poverty in the region.

The Butternut Squash is scientifically is known as Cucurbita Moschata. In Australia and New Zealand it is also known as the Butternut Pumpkin, a type of winter squash. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of pumkin.

It has yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp, and when ripe it turns into deep orange becoming sweeter and rich. It grows on a vine. Butternut squash is a fruit that can be roasted, toasted or mashed used in breads and muffins.

The three Northern regions have long periods of dry season of seven months.

If this project succeeds, idle time during off season will reduce with many of the youth in the region staying to cultivate their lands instead of going to the southern half of the country in search of nonexistent jobs.