Trax Ghana aspires to be one of the leading NGOs involved in the promotion of the orange fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). In order to share Trax’s experiences with other stakeholders, Trax organizes its annual OFSP Conference in Bolgatanga. This year’s edition took place on Wednesday 3 December and was on the theme ‘promoting OFSP as a food-based approach to address vitamin A deficiency in Northern Ghana’. The OFSP project is supported by Selfhelp Africa.
Trax Ghana started its pilot project in 2013. This project involved 50 farmers in Pelungu, Upper East Region. In 2014 it has added 100 new farmers and one Senior High School to this number. They all received 300 vine cuttings. In the coming years, Trax strives to scale up OFSP production and cultivation even more. With that goal in mind, a number of important topics were discussed with the participating farmers, researchers, public and private sector representatives and donors.
Community-sensitization to the agronomic, nutritional and economic benefits of the OFSP was one of the issues discussed. Representatives from the Ghana Health Service declared that they see the OFSP to be a great way to combat the staggering vitamin A deficiencies and that they will advise expectant and lactating mothers in particular to incorporate the OFSP into their diet. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture appealed to Trax to train their Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD) officers on the agronomic practices required for OFSP cultivation.
Value-chain development was another concern. Dr. Francis Kwaku Amagloh, lecturer of Food Processing Technology at the University of Development Studies showed that there are many economically viable marketing opportunities for processed OFSP products. Examples are sweet potato bread, biscuits, juice, baby foods, etc.
A third point that was brought up, especially by the farmers, was the weevil infestation during cultivation and the limited shelf-life. Some farmers reported that the OFSP starts rotting as soon as one month after harvesting. Mr. Kwabena Asare Bediako, a researcher from the International Potato Center (CIP) and the CSIR-SARI Crop Research Institute and Mr. Kwabena Acheremu, a researcher from the CSIR-SARI Crop Research Institute, suggested various ways of planting, cultivation, harvesting, curing and storing to prevent weevil infestation and early rotting.