Taro farmers in the Birim Central Municipality of the Eastern region have received capacity-building training on taro cultivation.
The capacity-building training programme which was organized by the Department of Agric in Akim Oda helped taro farmers to learn various topics such as the importance of taro cultivation, maturity periods, types of diseases affecting taros, types of lands effective for taro cultivation, taro marketing system in the Municipality and ways taro cultivation in the Municipality could be improved.
In an address on behalf of the Municipal Chief Executive for Birim Central, Mr. Haruna Amadu Zure, the Coordinating Director of the Assembly thanked participants for making time out of their busy schedules to attend the programme.
According to him, research activities that were conducted in 2019 in the Municipality by the Municipal Agric Directorate proved that the demand for taro consumption by the residents was an increase as compared to the other food crops.
This he said, was the reason why the government under the leadership of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo introduced taro farming in the Birim Central Municipality and other Districts to address the demands of the people.
Mr. Haruna indicated that this meeting would among other things help to iron out issues affecting taro farming in the Municipality and the Region at large and urged all participants to contribute their quota to make the programme a success.
Touching on taro situation in the Municipality, Mr. Isaac Mann, Birim Central Municipal Director of Agric indicated that, 1,200 suckers of taros were released in 2019 by the government to be distributed to farmers free of charge and added that the effective management of the projects by the Department has helped to create jobs for many residents in the Municipality.
According to him, taro leaf blight diseases affected a number of taro farms in the Municipality and eventually brought taro farming to a lower standard. He indicated that, with the help of the government through Crop Research Institute of the CSIR the diseases had been controlled.
Mr. Mann hinted that the government has recommended four new taro species such as “yen anya woa, hougbelor, agenkwa and asempa for farmers to be planted since they could withstand the weather condition in the Municipality.
On taro marketing issues in the Municipality, Mr. Mann said the Department of Agric had been able to train taro farmers on modern ways they could package the taros to attract people and called on all meaning Ghanaians who want to buy taro in commercial quantities to come to the Municipality and place an order.
The Eastern Regional Director of Agric, Mr Henry K. Crentsil who touched on the importance of taro production indicated that, the taro serves as food for people, increases the income level of taro farmers, and serves medicinal purposes among others.
According to him, 33 Municipal and District Assemblies including Birim Central in the Eastern Region have benefited from the taro projects and called on beneficiary Districts to manage the projects well to make the government achieve the intent to which the projects were introduced.
Mr. Crentsil advised farmers to use fertile lands for taro cultivation to enable them to achieve bumper harvest. He said taro cultivation does not demand huge sums of money and urged farmers to seek taro planting materials from the Department of Agric. This he said would go a long way to make farmers acquire non-infected planting materials.
On maturity period, Mr. Crentsil said the good taro hybrid matures ranging from three to eight months and urged all farmers to seek extension support services whenever they want to plant taro and other related crops.
Mr. Richard Boampong, a representative from the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute explained that taro is an ancient food crop. According to him, taro defaults are caused by delayed harvesting, reduction in dry matter content, and reduction in starch content among others and called on farmers to harvest their taros on time so as to prevent their farm produce from being infected by the rodents and bad weather conditions.
On ways to improve taro yields, Mr. Ernest Baafi, a representative from CSIR, Kumasi said taro farmers should create gutters in their farmers to enhance good water drainage system. This he said would prevent their taros from being affected by the excessive water. He also urged the farmers to avoid planting infected taros among others.
The programme was attended by Agric Directors drawn from Birim Central Municipality, Achiase District, Asene Manso Akroso District, Akyemansa District, Birim South District, New Abirem District, regional and national levels.