Wa — The inclusion of grasscutter rearing in government's Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJs) will enhance diversification of the programme, Mr Emmanuel Sasu Yeboah, Upper West Regional Director of Agriculture, has suggested.
The director noted that the rodent, if properly domesticated, would make the meat a delicacy readily available to consumers, and would also serve as source of employment for grasscutter hunters, and consequently lead to the protection of the environment as well.
Mr Yeboah was speaking at the opening of the third edition of the Ghana Grasscutter Project Workshop here on Tuesday which was on the theme, "Innovations to Boost Grasscutter Production and Marketing in the Upper West Region."
The Japan International Cooperation Agency, (JICA) in partnership with the Grasscuter Initiative for Rural Transformation (GIfT), a non-governmental organisation and the University of Ghana (UG) started the project in the region in 2014.
The director explained that rearing of grassutter did not require huge capital as they were mostly kept in simple cages, on a small land mass such that, even if the owner did not have a big compound to accommodate them, it would still not interfere with their ability to rear the rodent.
Mr Yeboah urged the farmers in the region to abide by the nutritional demands of the rodent and make sure they were well fed, as such practice would translate into high production, which would improve the income of the farmers.
Touching on the progress of grasscutter rearing in Ghana, Professor Miho Inoue-Murayama of the Kyoto University said the project, which started in the Upper West Region, had trickled down to other areas such that a lot more people were patronising the practice.
"We started with 30 farmers, but we have 50 as of now, with about 300 animals and more people are accepting to be part of the project in the region. We chose this region because of the the poverty levels at the time and the nutritional deficit as well," she stated.
For his part, a researcher with GIfT, Mr Titus Dery, stated a survey conducted by his outfit indicated that some rearers in the region had nutritional gaps when it came to the consumption of meat, saying although they reared the animals, they did not consume much of them.
A farmer, Mr James Kula adding his voice to the inclusion of the programme into the RFJ, stated that it would facilitate their access to materials to feed the rodents and also provide resources for them to expand their activities in order to benefit from the venture.
"As it stands now if you are unable to increase the number of grasscutter being reared, one is unable to garner adequate income from the venture because the animals do not produce enough like the other farm animals and take time to grow," he said.