Dr Mrs Patricia Pinamang Acheampong, Principal Research Scientist at the Crops Research Institute (CRI), has disclosed that researchers from the CRI and Plant Genetics Resources Research Institute (PGRRI), of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute (CSIR) are racing to close the knowledge gaps in the storage and preservation of local vegetables.
Dr Mrs Patricia Pinamang Acheampong explained that the aim is to develop more sustainable ways to store these “orphan crops” and advance efforts at reducing the post-harvest loses and other utilization limitations in indigenous leafy vegetables.
“Crops and plant genetic research scientists are currently working to bridge the knowledge gaps in the proper and scientifically proven storage methods for indigenous leafy vegetables grown in the country,” Dr Mrs Patricia Pinamang Acheampong said.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ varietal selection exercise for some indigenous leafy vegetable farmers at Kwadaso, Kumasi, Dr Mrs Patricia Pinamang Acheampong noted that there are not many studies done on the storage of the vegetables. However, she said, going forward, more emphasis would be placed on addressing gaps in post-harvest losses.
“We are still working on how to store these vegetables so that when there are gluts, we can store them and then during the lean season we can release them for consumers to buy,” Dr Mrs Acheampong told the farmers.
Stakeholders at the participatory varietal selection exercise included breeders, researchers, agricultural extension agents, marketers, processors and vegetable farmers drawn from the Oforikrom Municipality in the Ashanti Region.
Their tasks were to select from 20 accessions of three different indigenous leafy vegetables namely: – roselle (Hibiscus, “sule”), amaranth (“aleefu”), and Corchorus (“ayoyo”, “ademe”).
As an implementing partner of the Seeds for Resilience project, which is being implemented by the CSIR-PGRRI and sponsored by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the CSIR-CRI received the seeds from the CSIR-PGRRI for the project activities in the Ashanti region.
Common Platform for Value Chain Actors
Dr. Mrs Acheampong stated that it is important to have a common platform for value chain actors and other stakeholders, especially the marketers to engage with each other to help provide a ready market for the farmers.
She said marketers (traders) were crucial in selecting varieties that met the demands of consumers and if what traders selected corresponded to farmers’ choices, researchers would multiply the seeds of the selected accessions and distribute them to farmers to cultivate.
On the nutritional benefits of indigenous leafy vegetables, the Research Scientist indicated that, they served as supplements in diets with higher nutritional values needed by humans to support optimal health. She said these plants are mostly climate-resilient compared to the exotic vegetables cultivated.
Mr. Isaac Newton Boakye-Mensah, a Principal Technologist at the CSIR-CRI, indicated that after planting these vegetables for evaluation, the leaves of the vegetables would be used to prepare different foods/meals/ for stakeholders to taste to identify promising candidates.
According to Mr. Boakye-Mensah, the rationale for this was that “at times you see the plant growing nicely but when you taste it, it may not be as nice as we see it. Thus, it is appropriate that farmers and other stakeholders eat and point out the ones which are tasty for selection and multiplication,” he emphasized.