The University of Ghana in collaboration with Kyoto University in Japan have began implementing a three-year project dubbed, ‘Ghana Grasscutter Project’ to help scale-up the nutrition situation in the Upper West Region.
A study conducted in the region by Professor Daiji Kimura, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, revealed that protein intake in the region fell far below 50g, which is the necessary amount for an adult person.
Delivering a presentation at the Ghana Grasscutter Project workshop in Wa on the features of subsistence activities in the Region, Prof Kimura said if the meat of grasscutter could be readily supplied, improvement in the quality of life, as well as the elevation of the nutritional status of the region would be achieved.
Prof Kimura said advantageously, their livelihood survey showed that even in the households where grasscutters are bred, subsistence activities did not decrease, saying for these reasons, it is important for them to strive to spread the grasscutter breeding project.
Dr Christopher Adenyo, Livestock and Poultry Research Centre of the University of Ghana, said a census conducted in 2007 revealed that there were no grasscutter farms in the Upper West and Upper East Regions in spite of the potential of the grasscutter in the eradication of poverty and protein malnutrition which were apparent in the two regions.
Dr Adenyo, who is also the Ghana Grasscutter Project Coordinator, said in 2014, through the collaboration between Kyoto University and the University of Ghana, a grasscutter fund was secured from JICA to support farmers in the Upper West Region to rear grasscutters.
He said so far 42 farmers were keeping grasscutters in 14 communities under the project, adding that currently there were a total of 191 adult grasscutters.
He said the project was near completion and that even though they encountered some challenges, ‘they could still say they have been successful since reproduction was achieved in the pilot farms and kids have already been distributed to new farmers’.
Major challenges, Dr Adenyo, enumerated included lack of feed during dry season, extreme weather conditions which has led to the mortality of many of the young ones and lack of commitment on the part of some farmers.
‘If we are able to overcome these challenges, grasscutter production can be a major success in the Upper West Region, he said, while calling on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to give the farmers the needed support as the project comes to an end to ensure sustainability’.
Mr Tutus Dery of the Department of Animal Science, University of Ghana, and the project Monitoring Officer, who made a presentation on the grasscutter processing and meat safety guidelines outlined some safety procedures in both modern and traditional processing methods for grasscutter meat for household livelihoods.
For purposes of sustainability, an NGO known as Grasscutter Initiative for Rural Transformation (GIFT) has been formed to seek funding to continue the project as the three-year period comes to an end.