Bole — A pilot project to promote local cultivation, processing and consumption of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) for improved nutrition, among the vulnerable people has been launched here in Bole in the Savannah region.
The Project dubbed, Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture Initiative is being funded by the World Food Programme (WFP) and implemented by the Department of Agriculture in the Northern, Upper West and Savannah Regions.
Under the initiative, farmers would be encourage to cultivate the OFSP in large quantities for consumption by the indigenes to bridge the nutritional gap that existed among children under five.
The Country Director for WFP, Ms Rukia Yacoub who launched the programme, said it had been estimated that more than 43 million children under age five in Africa suffered Vitamin A Deficiency with 43 per cent of such children in northern Ghana, hence the concentration of the project in that part of the country.
"This pilot programme which was started in 2017 aims at improving the nutrition of vulnerable people in northern Ghana and providing income generation opportunities for small holder farmers engaged in the cultivation of the OFSP value chain," she stated.
Ms Yacoub disclosed that 120,000 OFSP vines had been distributed to more than 1,000 smallholder women farmers in four pilot districts.
She said the launch of the programme at Bole was the climax of work that had been done in the three regions in the last two years, which according to her included, "training of 1,143 farmers in 32 communities, preparation of four beneficiary OFSP nurseries, conducting field assessment and selection of 14 districts and drilling, testing and pumping of boreholes for beneficiary communities, among others.
The Country Director encouraged women to take advantage of the programme as it was introduced with a greater consideration to women's participation.
For His part, the Northern Regional Director for Agriculture, Mr William Boakye-Acheampong lauded the programme for providing an alternative source of livelihood for women as he described the cultivation of potatoes as a women-centered occupation.
Mr Boakye-Acheampong expressed hope that the project would excel given the numerous interventions put in place by government to promote agriculture.
The Deputy Regional Minister for the Savannah Region, Mr Samuel Tika acknowledged the timeliness of the programme and noted that it would inure to the benefit of the local people and improve the local economy.
"Orange fleshed sweet potato is a versatile crop which does not only contribute nutritional and food security benefits but also improves food availability and livelihood when farmers plant high yielding varieties, use better integrated crop management strategies and improve post-harvest practices," he stated.
The Deputy Regional Minister rallied the support of women and youth in the Bole area to embrace the programme and ensure the availability of food all year round.
The WFP used the occasion to conduct participants round demonstration farms and also introduced them to variety of dishes that OFSP could be used to prepare.
Read the original article on Ghanaian Times.
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