Project to improve nutritional status of women in northern Ghana ends

Navrongo (U/E). A three year cowpea out -scale project implemented to improve nutrition levels of women and children to reduce poverty in 63,000 households in the northern regions has come to an end.

The project, ‘taking cowpea to scale in West Africa’, dubbed COSP project, involved 152 communities in 38 districts of the three regions, ten districts in Upper East, eight in Upper West and 20 in the Northern regions.

Dr Ibrahim D.K Atokple, the Country Coordinator of COSP, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Navrongo, said the project was supported by Feed the Future Programme of USAID.

He said it was meant to reduce poverty, malnutrition and address the country’s challenges with reference to the Ghana Living Standards survey of 2010, that identifies the three northern regions among the most poverty endemic regions in the country.

Dr Atokple said diseases of majority of the populace in the country were due to malnutrition, particularly pregnant women and children and noted that the project which was under the auspices of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), promoted improved technology of cowpea, which is high in protein, from research institutions to farmers.

He said the project hopes to increase domestic consumption of cowpea and increase the income levels from sales of the surplus product by farmers.

On the sustainability of the project, the Country Coordinator said the entire cow pea value chain, from seed to processing was considered as a factor and added that a nucleus out-growers scheme was in place to ensure continuous supply of seed.

He said in 2017 alone, 350 out grower groups have been registered whilst some farmers in Navrongo in the Upper East and Walewale in the Northern Region have been contracted to produce more seeds for Heritage Seed Company among others.

Dr Atokpele, who highlighted the outcome of the project in a presentation at a workshop to end the project in Navrongo in the Kassena Nankana Municipality, said women out-growers formed 60 per cent of the beneficiaries of the project.

He said the cowpea up-scale seeks to come out with best cowpea varieties, step up production technologies, integrated pest management, appropriate crop management practices and improved post -harvest storage.

The project, he said, was in collaboration with the Savanah Research Institute (SARI), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) from the three regions, the Seed growers associations of Ghana and Four innovative platforms with one each in Upper East and Upper West Regions and two in Northern Region and worked with over 200 farmer group organizations.

Dr Simon Nchor, the West Africa Coordinator of the IITA, said COSP was implemented in four countries in West Africa including Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal to reduce poverty and improve food and nutrition security.

He said the project which promoted innovation, worked through partners in cowpea value chain in good seed system, input and agronomic practices through education, training and demonstrations and made available improved seeds.

Dr Nchor said the project since its implementation has cultivated 10,000 tons of quality cowpea seeds and added that 5,000 farming institutions have been trained while over 15,000 families were trained on cow pea utilizations.

Source: Ghana News Agency