When people say that Ghana is God’s own Israel, I tend to agree in many ways.

What has God not blessed this nation with?  We have the human capacity, the natural resources, beautiful weather, beautiful foods, and happy people no matter the adversity.  Above all, there is relative peace.

Without sounding too biblical, one is tempted to believe that God’s Promised Land is just ahead of us only we try to run ahead of God and thus keep missing the opportunities freely given us. 

The ingenuity availed in science and technology which seems to be the progressive stories of many successful economies around the world are available to us too.  We have turned blind eyes to home-grown opportunities that would create jobs and look elsewhere for finished products fashioned out of others’ ingenious skills.

Plantain sucker multiplication

Just a couple of weeks back, a Professor friend shared with me the beautiful news of two Ghanaian firms which have raised the world’s biggest plantain nursery using the technology of plantain sucker multiplication right here in Ghana. In the midst of plantain scarcity and higher prices of late, my curiosity piqued.

I started asking myself questions.  Why has this technology not been fully promoted to the extent that today we are buying a finger of plantain for three Cedis or more? Is the Government’s flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs, collaborating with the two firms?  Are they good enough to qualify as a One District One Technology project?

The sweetness of the story unfolded in the details my friend forwarded to me later and which was collaborated by another Professor well versed in research and the technology of plantain sucker multiplication.

It is true that necessity is the mother of invention.  The technology of plantain suckers came to the limelight at a time when Ghana Cocoa Board Company (Cocobod) was searching for solutions to the massive devastation of cocoa farms by the Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD) in 2020.

To address the situation, one is told that the Government in conjunction with Cocobod launched the national cocoa rehabilitation programme.

According to a news report by Star FM, the objective of the intervention was to cut and replant over-aged cocoa farms for replanting in a sustainable manner.

The initiative which was being funded by AfDB required that millions of permanent shade trees were to be planted alongside cocoa seedlings. 

Local Scientists

And guess what, the ingenuity of our local Scientists came to play here.  They identified plantain as the most suitable crop to provide temporary shade for the survival of cocoa seedlings. 

Plantain growing, therefore, became the toss of the day.  Why?  It was discovered to grow faster and able to retain soil moisture of benefit to the cocoa seedlings, not to mention the residual food that would be available in that short possible time.

The solution seemed gargantuan but with a collaborative effort of two indigenous Ghanaian agriculture supply chain management firms based in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital, a saviour was born.

The firms, Afarinick Company Ltd. and Kumad Global Impact Ltd. were the perfect solutions to the national cocoa rehabilitation programme.

Naturally, the two local companies saw a need and proffered solutions to Cocobod.

The result was the production of an unsurpassed state-of-the-art and world-class plantain seedling nursery at North Suaman-Dadieso in the Western North Region of Ghana.

The manipulation technology which multiplies a single plantain sucker to about 120 seedlings is expected to deliver its target of 117 million plantain seedlings by the end of 2023. 

Benefits

The benefits of this technology go beyond providing sustainability to our cocoa farms.  It is said to have so far provided direct employment for some 900 people, 65 per cent of whom are women.  By the end of the year, the employment rate is forecast to balloon to over 100 per cent.

But quite apart from jobs created, the project with over 100 million plantain seedlings planted so far is going to provide food security in the coming months.

What a better technology to give support to Planting for Food and Jobs and an all year round supply of plantain in the country.  By the way, can anyone also overlook the one District one Factory (1D1F) project of the Government?

Today it is plantain sucker multiplication but how about our other staple foods – maize, cassava, soya beans, and cocoyam for example?

One is convinced that our own Council for Scientific Research, with all the technology and human capacity available to them, has equally laudable programmes gathering dust in their cupboards.

Just like the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme initiative which has unearthed plantain sucker multiplication, many more collaborations between the government and private sector could bring huge benefits to the country.

The cries of poultry farmers and egg sellers associations in the last few weeks for lack of chicken feed come to mind here.  How about a form of collaboration to meet the demands of the poultry industry?

Progressive IDIF ideas are heavy on my mind.  Good collaborative ideas for food security too laudable to be ignored.

Writer’s email: vickywirekoandoh@yahoo.com



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