From Francis Owusu-Ansah, Sunyani .
Farmers at Lailai, a community at Atebubu Amantin in the Brong-Ahafo region have named an improved variety of cowpea after for President John Mahama.
The Maruka Resistant Cowpea seed, referred to as ‘petudua’ by the locals was introduced in 2013, and has become so popular that more than 50 per cent of farmers in the community grow it now.
The farmers have named the new variety after the former president because they claim it is highly productive just like the one it has been named after.
When contacted on phone, the Atebubu Municipal Director of Agriculture, Mr. George Amanyo, confirmed that indeed the farmers are noted for naming crops after prominent people.
“Yes the farmers have been giving names to crops in connection with their satisfaction with their produce. They even have Allan cash as one nick name”, he said.
In 2013, local and international researchers and farmers began a pilot project on the planting of genetically modified cowpea seeds in the country.
The pilot project, which was executed in Tamale in the Northern Region, was the outcome of a research which indicated that Ghana’s land was fertile for the growth of genetically modified cowpea seeds.
The project was extended to other ecological areas in the country at the close of 2013.
Dr King David Amoah, at the time a member of the Ghana Federation of Agricultural Producers (GFAP), indicated at a sensitisation workshop organised for farmers at Akuse that the country needed to enact regulatory laws through a regulatory authority before the seeds could be used by farmers on a large scale.
He advised farmers to adopt the use of genetically modified cowpea seeds even before it was introduced into the country in 2018.
The farmers were counselled to join agriculture-based organisations in order to have a comprehensive bargaining front.
Dr Amoah further endorsed the use of the Maruka Resistant Cowpea seed in Ghana and expressed his optimism of the success of the genetically modified seed.
Mr John Dziwornu, member of the Ghana Federation of Agriculture Producers at the time, iexplained that the Maruka cowpea seed had the capacity to fight external pests and insects.
He said at the time that the seed would ensure an increase in production, improved nutrition, enhanced soil fertility and an increase in income. That prediction has come to pass with the farmers at Atebubu Amantin giving testimonies.
Mr. Dziwornu said the development and introduction of the Maruka Resistant Cowpea seed was as a result of thorough research.
“The local conditions in the agricultural sector were factored into the creation of the new seed. This makes the seed compatible with the prevailing conditions of the agricultural sector such as the soil and the temperature”, he added.