The Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), has launched its sweet potato compact in Ghana with the aim of reaching out to two large and five small scale processes in each of the four selected country.
The other three countries, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya would be supported with vine multipliers and would at least reach out to large numbers. Mr Tom van Mourik, Country Manager, International Potato Centre said the compact has three main objectives to increase productivity and production of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes (OFSP) among small holder and large economies, improve income from root and the process of the product along the value chain and create awareness about the nutritional benefits and the availability of the fresh foods and the processed products.
He said the project was a USD $120,000 funded by the African development bank per year and as such it was important to build on and align with existing structures. He noted that TAAT projects were not research projects but were based on applying results and evidence from research projects adding that 2018 would focus on quick wins and on yearly basis proposal ideas.
Mr Mourik said there were different TAAT projects on going and it was important to find the synergies with these projects, adding that some innovative packages proposed in this project include seed production, good agricultural practices and post-harvest handlings.
He said for the coming years they hope to establish demonstration plots in the Upper East, Western, Volta and the Central regions, support CSIR partners with variety and seed production, identify, train and technically support vine multipliers so that planting materials would become available and support them with seed production infrastructure.
“We also want to support small scale processors with small equipment and certification, create awareness, visible promotional sign boards at key locations, radio campaigns, translate and disseminate training videos on sweet potato and producing root and planting material already developed in the project.”
According to Mr Mourik, by the end of July and the beginning of August this year, they were able to support some innovation platform meetings, variety release processes, have identified some potential processes and support and installed some demonstration plots in the four selected regions.
He expressed the hope that they would implement this project in the short term and be able to support innovation platform meetings, implement activities with participation of innovation platforms and their members, and organise awareness raising events, develop and adapt communication tools about improved varieties and disseminate information scale.
Mr Emmanuel Darkey, Chairman of the Sweet Potato Innovation Platform said the OFSP was enriched with vitamins and the TAAT is a way of creating public awareness of the food which has been in existence for a long time people to know more about the product, especially its health benefits.
He said currently, they were working with women in agriculture by setting up a market in the ministries area where sweet potato products like, biscuit, bread, cake, among others would be sold.
He said some innovation platforms were built but most of them were not working because they did not have funding to fund meetings and as such much awareness has not yet been created.
“Because of that there is very little participation of the value chain in the districts but as at now it is doing well with central region leading and other regions would follow suit hopefully.”
He said the project itself would last for five years, and was in two phase with the first one ending in January 2019, while the second phase commences immediately after the first and expected to last for another one year.