Bringing together experts in groundnut research from across Ghana, a new organization of scientists aspires to boost the size of the crop and profit for farmers, improve the quality of groundnuts consumers see at the market and increase the supply of nutritious and safe food served in homes.
The Ghana Groundnut Working Group met for the first time in July to explore peanut production, economics, technology and benefits in Ghana.
Organized by Mumuni Abudulai, chief research scientist for CSIR’s Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, George Mahama, an agronomist with SARI in Wa; Richard Akromah, professor at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology; Brandford Mochiah, director of CSIR’s Crops Research Institute; and David Jordan of North Carolina State University, the inaugural meeting of the GGWG brought together more than 50 scientists and agricultural professionals from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, University Developmental Studies, private industry and foreign partners.
The group met at the Modern City Hotel in Tamale.
The model for the meeting is the American Peanut Research and Education Society, a 51-year-old organization in the United States that has helped the peanut industry in the Americas weather disease and other production problems over recent decades.
“Several institutions – research institutes, universities, and NGOs – work to promote groundnut production in Ghana by providing technical and managerial assistance to farmers, groups and small-scale entrepreneurs,” said Abudulai. “But, the exchange of ideas among these groups and across the groundnut supply chain in Ghana is limited. Several models exist for establishing working groups and professional societies, but the American Peanut Research and Education Society has been very effective in creating a forum for interactions among all segments of the U.S. peanut industry.
“Based on the success story of APRES, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab and partners in Ghana felt that establishing a similar organization would be valuable to the groundnut sector here.”
While the first meeting of the GGWG included updates on the latest scientific research into variety development, pest control and cropping systems, sessions also explored economics, food safety and child nutrition. In addition to leading experts from the national program and universities, discussions included farmers and aggregators who work growing and processing groundnuts every day.
“For the GGWG, you need to have everyone from the value chain at the table. You must look at issues from the seed to the table,” said Akromah, who is an expert in plant breeding and genomics. “My personal interest is in the quality of the seed, but you have to have a diverse group for the GGWG to be successful.”
In written assessments of the event, participants identified themselves as researchers and scientists, university lectures, farmers, aggregators and processors. They said the GGWG will give them a chance to review past research, discuss challenges they find in the value chain, look for solutions to those problems, improve awareness of groundnuts and shape policy in groundnut farming and marketing issues.
Organizers hope to make the meeting an annual gathering and continue to incorporate business and industry sponsors from all segments of the groundnut value chain.
“I was very excited to see the level of interest and participation in this first meeting,” said Dave Hoisington, the director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut, which sponsored the meeting. “Having participated in the APRES meetings for several years, I can see the benefits from such events in raising awareness and enthusiasm in peanut research in the USA. I’m sure that a similar event in Ghana would have the same impact – something that is important for all stakeholders along the groundnut value chain, from researchers to consumers.”
The next meeting could be held as early as spring 2020.