Vegetable farmers have been urged to embrace the cultivation of indigenous leafy vegetables as part of efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Dr, Mrs Patricia Pinamang Acheampong, a Pricipal Research Scientist of the Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), who made the call, said indigenous leafy vegetables were adaptable to most environmental changes and could help withstand issues on climate.
Added to these, she said indigenous leafy vegetables served as supplements to diets and have higher nutritional values needed by humans to support optimal health, facilitating healthy stress response, healthy aging and reducing oxidative damage from free radicals, among others.
Dr. Mrs. Acheampong in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) said in terms of nutrient security, indigenous leafy vegetables were one of the best crops to be cultivated to feed the teeming population.
This was after a participatory varietal selection exercise organized by CRI, at a demonstration field at Kwadaso for vegetable farmers drawn from the Barekese enclave.
The farmers were to select from 20 assertions each of three different indigenous leafy vegetables namely – roselle (hibiscus, “sule”), amaranth (“aleefu”), and corchorus (“ayoyo”, “ademe”).
The seeds had been supplied to the CSIR-CRI by the CSIR-Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute through funding support from Global Crop Trust Crop.
The selection, according to Dr. Acheampong would help researchers to do mass production of the seeds of the choices made by farmers for cultivation.
Dr. Lawrence Misa Aboagye, a Chief Research Scientist, at CSIR-PGRRI, told the GNA that in terms of lifespan, the indigenous leafy vegetables were early maturing and could be harvested in about three months.
“One technology researchers wanted to promote was the way farmers plant these indigenous vegetables.
Instead of the broadcasting method used by these farmers, the quantity to be sown per square meter would be much considered.
This would enhance productivity as well as reducing waste of seeds through the broadcast method,” Dr Aboagye explained.
In terms of harvesting, researchers would train farmers in cutting matured leaves in a manner to ensure regeneration for two or more harvests before plant extinction.
Dr Aboagye indicated that for the seeds to be in abundance a seed production plant must be put in place after when farmers had selected their choices of plants, after which the Institute would do a mass production of the choicest seeds.
Mr Awudu Razak, a beneficiary farmer, commended the CSIR-CRI and CSIR-PGRRI for involving them in the selection process.
He said he only knew of two varieties of these vegetables especially, that is “ayoyo” and “aleefu” which he had been cultivating for years.
He asked that the researchers expedite actions for multiplication of these varietal seeds for supply to farmers for planting.