Two improved groundnut varieties have helped a group of farmers in Ghana increase their yields five-fold, breaking a three-decade stranglehold on the crop’s productivity. The improved varieties, SARINUT 1 and SARINUT 2, are also combating devastating afflictions of groundnut production like leaf spot disease in the country’s Savanna Region.
The farmers’ group, Soglokonbo Groundnut Farmers Association in the region’s East Gonja district, has been using the improved varieties and good agricultural practises to produce around 1,200 kg per hectare in stark contrast to the 225 kg per hectare they were harvesting earlier. Reason for the historically low yields: prominence of a dated variety that was introduced in the region 30 years ago and was handed down or exchanged between farmers.
Not only was the dated variety low-yielding, it was also highly susceptible to early and late leaf spot diseases that can wipe out as much as 80% of a field. With such prospects, several farmers in the region ditched groundnut for other remunerative crops.
However, the turnaround came when researchers acted as a catalyst for CSIR-SARI to collaborate with AGRITREE Sustainable Centre, an agro-based NGO, to introduce improved groundnut varieties and complementary good agronomic practices to farmers in the area. These activities were conducted under the aegis of the projects – Tropical Legumes III (TLIII), Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa (AVISA) and NWO-WOTRO (Scaling-Up Groundnut Varieties in Ghana and Mali).
The farmers’ group was attracted by SARINUT varieties’ high yield potential, disease resistance, kernel attributes, high above-the-ground biomass content (fodder) besides their early maturity characteristics. After witnessing the varietal performance, there was no turning back for the group’s members.
“I cultivated 5 acres of SARINUT 1 variety and harvested 71 maxi bags. I sold the produce and bought a motorbike and two packets of zinc roofing sheets. So good bye to thatched roofs,” Mr. Mohammed Abdulai, a 33-year-old member of the farmers’ group, beamingly says.
The 2019 -2020 cropping season was a successful year for the Soglokonbo Association. Over the past years, low yields due to old varieties meant less competitive prices. The new varieties gave them a fresh start to access and produce high yielding varieties which have improved demand for their produce, thanks to improved uniformity in the kernel.
“We now have a partner with whom we were able to negotiate good prices for our produce. With competitive remuneration and timely payment for our sale, the livelihoods of the members of our association has improved,” says Mr. Richard Dramanihe, leader of the Soglokonbo Groundnut Farmers Association.
“With the kind of enthusiasm exhibited and successes chalked by the Soglokonbo Groundnut Farmers Association, all groundnut farmers in the surrounding areas will soon be planting the new varieties,” says
Dr Doris Kanvenaa Puozaa, scientist at the CSIR-SARI.
In Ghana, the work continues to introduce new improved varieties and is being led by Dr Richard Oteng-Frimpong of CSIR-SARI, as part of AVISA Project.
Dr Doris Kanvenaa Puozaa, Seed scientist, CSIR-SARI
Dr Richard Oteng-Frimpong, Groundnut Breeder, CSIR-SARI
Moussa Magassa, Communication Assistant, AVISA-WCA
Dr Haile Desmae, Regional Breeding Lead, ICRISAT-WCA
Agathe Diama, Head Regional Information, ICRISAT-WCA