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Kofi Annan, wife visits potato field in north

Mr Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, and his wife, Mrs Nane Annan, Friday visited a sweet potato trial field at Nyankpala in the Northern Region to observe the progress being made in sweet potatoes production in the country.

The field formed part of the orange-fleshed sweet potato project being undertaken by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR – SARI), in partnership with the International Potato Center.

The visit would enable Mrs Annan to drive international support for the production, marketing and consumption of sweet potatoes in the country to improve nutritional status of children and their mothers to amongst others, prevent stunting in children.

Sweet potatoes are a source of vitamin A, which is essential in improving the nutritional status of children.

After touring the potato field and attending a durbar of chiefs and farmers at Voggu, near Nyankpala, Mr and Mrs Annan met representatives of some institutions involved in agricultural production, health and nutrition promotion and research in Tamale to learn about their various projects to promote the production of sweet potatoes.

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The institutions include the Ghana Health Service, Ghana School Feeding Programme, CSIR – SARI, University for Development Studies, Northern Regional Department of Agriculture and the United Nations Children’s Fund, amongst others.

Mr Annan said he was impressed by the progress being made to promote the production and consumption of sweet potatoes in the country, stating that, it held tremendous benefits for the citizenry.

He said a lot of activities were involved in the value chain of sweet potato production, which could be harnessed as jobs for the people.

Mrs Annan said her desire to promote the production, marketing and consumption of sweet potatoes was to amongst others, help to address stunting amongst children whiles ensuring income for the farmers.

Alhaji A.B.A Fuseini, Deputy Northern Regional Minister, described the visit by Mr and Mrs Annan as historic, as it would motivate the farmers to do more in the area of sweet potato production in the region.

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Alhaji Fuseini was full of praise for the initiative by Mrs Annan to promote sweet potatoes, saying that, it would help address issues of nutrition and poverty among the people.

Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, in-charge of Crops, emphasized the need to improve on food crops to help address hunger and improve nutrition amongst children.

Dr Stephen Nutsugah, Director of CSIR – SARI said in the next two years, CSIR – SARI would release two varieties of sweet potato for cultivation by farmers.