A project, “Taking Cowpeas to Scale in West Africa,” aimed at improving the cowpea seed sector in the three Northern Regions has taken off.
The three-year project (2015 – 2017) being sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will focus on a series of best-bet cowpea production technologies, reflecting input from International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), USAID Missions, and other key partners in the country.
Its goal is to improve the lives and livelihoods of dry-land farmers in 38 districts in the three regions, and increase the sustainability of the cropland on which they depend through greater reliance on performance by cowpea as a key component within their farming systems.
It is being implemented by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR – SARI) in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, IITA, Crop Research Institute, Catholic Relief Services, Management for Development, Heritage Seeds Company amongst others.
Speaking at the project implementation workshop in Tamale, Dr Stephen Nutsugah, Director of CSIR – SARI said it would improve seed planning and connect actors along the cowpea seed value chain, strengthen capacity of cowpea seed value chain actors, and encourage the use of certified and quality declared seeds by cowpea farmers.
The workshop was to enable the implementing partners of the project to reach a common understanding of the goals and the milestone as defined by the project document and implementation strategy, as well as agree on their various roles and responsibilities under the project.
Dr Nustugah said the government was focused on partnering with the private sector, to eliminate constraints limiting agricultural investment in the country, citing the National Seed Policy as one of the interventions to tackle the challenges in the seed sector.
He mentioned actors along the cowpea value chain that would benefit from the project, which include farmers producing cowpea and fodder, seed producers (community-based and small and medium enterprises), manufacturers and distributors of bags for hermetic storage of cowpea seeds and grains.