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Aug 2, 2013

Tamaligu farmers cultivating butternut squash for export


Farmers in Tamaligu, a community in the Savelugu-Nanton District of the Northern Region have expressed joy over the introduction of butternut squash, an export commodity, to the village.

Butternut squash, also known as butternut pumpkin, is a type of fruit or vegetable that has a yellowish skin and pulp with a sweet taste when it is well-ripen.

It can be eaten through a variety of ways, such as roasted, toasted or mixed into soup or other food and is noted for its high level of vitamins, fibre, potassium and other nutrients.

Ghana has begun cultivating the crop for export to European buyers.

Farmers in Tamaligu were introduced to the crop by the Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP) in partnership with the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority.

Earlier this year, farmers in Tamaligu cultivated 15 acres of butternut squash and harvested large quantities of the vegetable.

Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Muniru, who is the Secretary of the Suglo-Viela Farmers Group in Tamaligu, told Ghana News Agency, that members are involved from the land preparation stage through to farm management, harvesting and packaging of the crop.

He said in addition to the cultivation of butternut squash, the NRGP had also supported the farmers to cultivate maize, sorghum, soya beans and vegetables during the dry and raining seasons.

He said last year, members cultivated 300 acres of maize, 30 acres of sorghum and 50 acres of soya beans.

Mr Muniru said the group formed through the NRGP is made up of 76 farmers with 41 of them being females.

He said the group is linked to a commercial farmer, Mr Mahama Alhassan through whom the NRGP channelled its support to them.

Mr Muniru said the commercial farmer aided members to acquire irrigation pumps from the NRGP at a subsidised cost under the Programme’s matching grants scheme.

“We are to pay a part of the cost of the machines and the NRGP would also pay a part,” he explained.

In an interview Mr Alhassan, who operates the Savannah Agro-business Services, he said the farmers had acquired the requisite knowledge to cultivate butternut squash.

“They can now cultivate the crop each year if they are linked to a buyer,” he said.

He appealed to the NRGP to construct a warehouse for the community to enable the farmers to store maize due to the huge volumes that are being produced.

Source: GNA