USAID RING beneficiaries harvest 500 tons OFSP

Tamale, A total of 15,000 women in 17 districts in the Northern Region have harvested 500 metric tons of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP) for household consumption to improve nutritional status of women of reproductive age and children under-five years.

The women were supported with five million OFSP vines, which were cultivated on 354 acres of land in 261 communities across the districts including Chereponi, Saboba and Gushegu during the 2017 cropping season.

The United States Government’s global hunger and food security initiative – Feed the Future, through the United States Agency for International Development’s Resiliency in Northern Ghana Project (USAID RING), supported the women with the OFSP vines to cultivate and consume as it is a tasty, easy-to-grow, and highly-nutritious crop.

OFSP helps to reduce vitamin A deficiency, a pervasive health problem in the country, particularly in the Northern Region where about 75 percent of children under five suffers from it.

Vitamin A deficiency can be a major cause for anemia amongst women and children and the OFSP is expected to improve the health of thousands of women and children by encouraging diverse crop production and the consumption of nutrient-rich foods.

Mr Yunus Abdulai, acting Chief of Party of USAID RING, who spoke at an event in Tamale hosted by USAID RING and partners to celebrate the harvest for the year, said the efforts were aimed to improve access to diverse, vitamin-rich, and nutritious crops for northern households.

USAID RING and its partners since 2016, supported the cultivation of OFSP in the Region, which significantly increased from 1.5 million OFSP vines in 2016 to 5 million vines in 2017, as a result of high yields achieved during the first major harvest and the growing demand for the crop by women farmers.

Mr Joseph Ashong, Project Management Specialist-Nutrition at USAID Ghana, said As with all crop cultivation activities, the 15,000 households received basic training from the Government of Ghana staff on land preparation, planting, field care, land maintenance, harvesting, storage, and utilization.

Mr Ashong added that In fiscal year 2018, USAID will scale-up the number of OFSP vines from five million to 23 million, reaching nearly 75,000 women from the most vulnerable and food insecure households.

Dr Francis Amagloh, Head of Food Security and Technology Department, Faculty of Agriculture, University for Development Studies, expressed need for all to commercialize the OFSP by using it to develop varieties of meals for sale to the public.

Source: Ghana News Agency