The Coordinator of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation [FAO] Enhanced Guinea Fowl Production project for Northern Ghana, Samuel Yaw Apiigah, has observed that if every household in the area had twenty guinea fowls poverty among residents would become a thing of the past.
He said, if government and its development partners really wanted to alleviate poverty in the North they must encourage guinea fowls rearing among households in the area because it was economically viable and the demand for guinea fowl products was very high in the domestic and international markets.
Speaking at the official inauguration of a US$312,000 Enhanced Guinea Fowl Production project at Pong-Tamale in the Northern Region, Mr. Apiigah explained further that guinea fowl was the favourite meat for thousands of people within and outside Ghana, due to its nutritional value and low fats level.
The project was launched three years ago with the ultimate objective to increase the production of guinea fowls and drastically reduce mortality rate in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions where they were reared in large quantities.
With funding from the FAO, the project dubbed: “Enhanced Guinea Fowl Production in the Northern Regions of Ghana” was under the Government’s Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Development Strategy (AAGDS) and the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II), also aimed at improving food security, human welfare and the reduction of poverty in the country.
The project which was implemented by Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the International Centre for Enterprise and Sustainable Development (ICED), was expected to increase the production of guinea fowls from the current 30 million birds annually to 100 million birds within the three year period and beyond.
As part of the project, three demonstration and breeding centres [hatcheries] were established at Pong-Tamale in the Northern Region, Paga in the Upper East Region and Babile in the Upper West Region to enhance the production of guinea fowls.
The breeding and demonstration centres were equipped with the necessary hatchery equipment such as incubators, generators, water and feeding troughs, drugs and vaccines, improved housing and sanitation facilities, disease prevention and control mechanisms as well as stocking the centre with 2,500 high laying egg efficiency peel with exotic guinea fowl keets each.
The project which was piloted in 22 communities in four districts namely, East Mamprusi in the Northern Region, Kasena-Nankana West in the Upper East and Lawra and Lambusie-Karni in the Upper West Region, enhanced the capacity of 181 model guinea fowl farmers, 45 Agricultural Extension Agents and 21 subject matter specialists from different MoFA structures as well as project staff members in modern guinea fowl production in areas such as husbandry, healthcare, marketing and value chain approaches.
According to Mr. Apiigah, the project was significant in the provision of food security, nutrition and increase in farmers’ incomes in rural communities. He explained that the project had introduced modern guinea fowl production equipment and exotic breeds to arrest the high mortality associated with guinea fowl production that would also serve as a training centre for students on guinea fowl rearing in the country.
Berhanu Bedane in an address read on behalf of the Deputy Regional Representative for FAO Africa and FAO Representative to Ghana, said fighting hunger and malnutrition as well as improving the living standards of the rural poor through improved agricultural production were at the centre of all the UN agency’s efforts.
He said: “The level of poverty, the difficult agro-climatic conditions for most agricultural production, the suitability of semi-arid agro-ecological condition for guinea fowl and the long tradition of rearing guinea fowl in the three regions of the north and the unmet demands for guinea fowl meat and eggs both in domestic and international markets are factors which were taken into account while formulating this project.”
|Berhanu Bedane, FAO official|
Mr. Bedane, disclosed that a total of 6,600 improved breeds of guinea fowl keets were purchased and distributed to 181 model farmers in the area who also received starter kits to venture into commercial production.
He indicated that the achievement of the project was encouraging and believed what it had achieved in the 22 communities of the four piloted districts would enable beneficiaries of the project to further put to practice what they had been trained on and share with others, knowledge and skills acquired to improve upon the production, productivity and marketing of guinea fowls. This, in his estimation would help upscale current achievements and create job opportunities for themselves and other thousands of farmers in the country.