Farmers in Upper West introduced to GAPs in groundnut production

By Philip Tengzu, GNA 

Tanina (UW/R), Sept. 16, GNA – Farmers in the Upper West Region have been introduced to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) to enable them to produce higher quality groundnut for the Ghanaian market. 

The GAPs are also to ensure sustainable agriculture and improved livelihoods.  

This is an initiative by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI), in partnership with the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut. 

The Ghana Market Systems and Resilience programme is also supporting the initiative.  

More than 100 members of farmer groups from districts and municipalities across the region were introduced to those practices during a Farmers’ Field Day at Tanina in the Wa West District. 

The Field Day, which focused on increasing the uptake of adaptation measures such as new technologies and improved agricultural practices, allowed smallholder farmers to observe and compare the performance of different groundnut treatments to improve farming skills.  

Dr George Mahama, a Senior Research Scientist, CSIR-SARI, Wa Station, said yield losses due to low soil fertility and disease infestations mainly resulted from the minimal application of nutrients during groundnut cultivation. 

The use of low-quality recycled seed, limited use of pesticides and fungicides, and non-adherence to proper plant spacing were some of the constraints farmers faced in groundnut production.  

“To address the skill and knowledge gaps identified as major hindrances to initiatives aimed to enhance groundnut productivity, the project has established multiple learning sites aimed at improving the agricultural knowledge and skills of smallholder farmers, particularly in producing quality groundnut for the Ghanaian markets,” Dr Mahama, who is in charge of the demonstration plots, said. 

He observed that groundnut production in smallholder farming systems in northern Ghana could be enhanced using certified seeds, pesticides and fungicides to control pests and disease infestations.  

 “Nutrient management practices based on the concept of using the right source of nutrients applied at the right rate, at the right place, and at the right time can also improve groundnut production,” he said.  

He said the increase in groundnut yields through the GAPs would improve household incomes given the higher profits associated with the crop, compared to other crops. 

“When farmers see adaptive farming practices like these at work, it can be easier for them to try the new practices on their farms because they recognise a clear, tangible value to make the shift.” 

Dr Richard Oteng-Frimpong, a Plant Breeder, CSIR-SARI, Nyamkpala Station, encouraged the farmers to ensure their fields were always clean, saving the crop from competing with weeds for the limited soil nutrients. 

Poor weed management on groundnut fields also led to post-harvest losses as some of the nuts were left in the soil during harvesting, he said. 

On groundnut disease control, Dr. Oteng-Frimpong said: “One of the easiest and cheapest ways to control the disease is to use improved and disease-resistant groundnut varieties.” 

Some of the farmers who spoke to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) said the Field Day was an eye-opener since they had discovered the benefits of some new technologies and techniques they would adopt to improve their farming activities. 

The technologies included the use of climate-smart and other sustainable agricultural practices such as disease-resistant groundnut variety, quality seed, optimum plant spacing, and weed and nutrient management.  

The knowledge gained would ensure more resilient and prosperous agricultural practices to improve their lives and communities, the farmers said. 

Mr Martin Bondiyiri, a Seed Grower at Nadowli, said he had learned the identification and management of major groundnut diseases especially leaf spot disease, which most farmers, unfortunately, interpreted as an indicator of groundnut maturity.