Orange maize hits Ghanaian market: success story of an orange maize revolution in Ghana
24 February 2017
Amanase near Suhum in the Eastern region of Ghana is a market center serving several adjoining communities.
On one of its market days in February 2015 traders saw a “wonder maize” and its products displayed by Kwame Ani Amoako and Anim Amponsah—farmers in Amanase who are friends.
Seeing orange-fleshed maize was amazing to locals who had hitherto cultivated and consumed only white maize. Akosua Benewa and her sister Yaa Kwabea—both indigenes of Amanase, shared how their encounter with a group of scientists from CSIR-CRI prompted them to adopt the new and improved orange maize varieties that is making farming more profitable for their households.
“Before, farmers in Amanase cultivated only local maize varieties with a yield potential less than 1 t/ha. This local variety takes longer to mature (120-130 days), is very tall, and is susceptible to lodging, streak, drought, and is also less nutritious in terms of vitamin A content,” the sisters recounted.
Earlier, in June 2014, a team of scientists led by Manfred Ewool from CSIR-CRI visited this community and introduced some recently released orange maize varieties from CRI. These new varieties were accepted by the farmers because they could mature in 110 days, had adequate levels of vitamin A for improved health and nutrition, and they possessed tolerance for all the stresses that affect the local variety. In addition, the new varieties also had a yield potential of up to 3 t/ha—three times the yields previously obtained from their fields. The new varieties also offered 10-20% higher price over the white varieties.
Farmers testified that the higher price was an incentive for them to adopt and grow more of the orange maize, providing additional incomes for the upkeep of their families. This high patronage has now provided an incentive for many maize petty traders in the region to sell orange maize.
Akosua and Kwabea are among the first set of petty traders in Amanase to taste the orange maize. They testified that orange maize used in the preparation of local delicacies such as Banku, Kenkey, and Tuosafi was very palatable and preferred more than the white varieties.
Others also testified that food products from orange maize were sticky, so there was no need to add cassava dough in preparing local food, thus saving some money.
Undoubtedly, the introduction of the orange maize varieties to Amanase has resulted in such a visible and great impact on the lives of the locals to date. Orange maize and its products are progressively spreading throughout Ghana and this could be seen on the roadside—boiled and roasted or in Banku, Kenkey, and Tuosafi.
In addition to the success of the new varieties in Amanase, most poultry farmers in Kumasi, Ejura, Kofiase, Nkoranza, and Sunyani where the orange maize has been introduced have said that the adequate levels of pro-vitamin A have led to an improvement in the health conditions of their birds. They have also expressed confidence in the varieties’ ability to improve the color of egg yolk and also increase egg production.
The new maize varieties were bred by scientists from IITA in collaboration with HarvestPlus, CSIR-Crops Research Institute and CSIR-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute—all working to step up production of orange maize varieties in Ghana as an alternative to forestall the importation of orange maize estimated to cost the government close to US$200 million every year.
About IITA www.iita.org
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is a not-for-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation. Working with various partners across sub-Saharan Africa, we improve livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security, increase employment, and preserve natural resource integrity. IITA is a member of CGIAR, a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future.
Media contact: Katherine Lopez, Head of Communication, email@example.com