GHANA – The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Yara–Ghana have begun a project to sustainably increase the production of soyabean to meet the rising demand in the country.

The project dubbed: “Sustainable Soyabean Production in Northern Ghana” (SSPiNG) also seeks to enable rural households to raise their incomes and improve food security on a sustainable basis.

Other partners of the SSPiNG project, which is being implemented within four years, included the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Wageningen University and Research and Felleskjøpet Rogaland Agder and it is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

An estimated 100,000 smallholder farmers in 16 districts in the Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West Regions are expected to benefit from the project.

Dr Richard Asare, Country Representative for IITA–Ghana, who spoke during the launch of the SSPiNG in Tamale, said it was initiated as a direct response to a request by the Minister for Food and Agriculture to meet the country’s domestic feed requirements for farmed fish and poultry industries, thus substituting for the large quantities of imported soy-based products.

According to MoFA, the country currently produces about 180,000 metric tons of soyabeans annually while domestic demand is more than 300,000 metric tons.

The statistics also show that the country’s annual soyabean production potential is 700,000 metric tons, covering an area of about 250,000 hectares while the area under cultivation of soyabean is about 102,000 hectares.

The country’s combined processing and export gap is 228,000 metric tons while imports (mainly processed soya meal) amount to about 200,000 metric tons.

Therefore, there is growing unmet market demand and unused processing-export capacity.

The main bottleneck is the lack of capacity for medium and smallholder farmers to increase their annual soyabean production by an additional 200,000 metric tons, hence the SSPiNG project to increase the production.

Dr Asare said, “The project aims at providing a sustainable supply of soyabean grains of sufficient quality in response to proven local demand thereby ensuring that producers and all value chain partners, including smallholder soyabean producers generate sufficient margins to continue their engagement in the soyabean value chain.”

Mr Yaw Frimpong, Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, expressed optimism that the project would lead to commercial production of soyabean to meet the rising demand in the country.

The SSPiNG project is aligned with the government’s programme of “Investing for Food and Jobs, An Agenda for Transforming Ghana’s Agriculture (2018-2021)” and it is expected to, in the long-term, create jobs, improve food and nutrition security, contribute to balance of payments and increase incomes and profitability for farmers.

Mr Frimpong, therefore, urged all partners under the project to work assiduously to meet the goals for the benefit of all.

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