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Sustaining Frafra potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius Poir.) in the food chain; current opportunities in Ghana

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  • CSIR-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, Ghana Tamale

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Frafra potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius Poir.)is one underutilized crop species which is critical to improving food security in the Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana. Food dishes of Frafra potato (FP) are a delicacy particularly for children. The tubers have high marketing potential even compared with its counterpart, sweet potato. However, crop improvement programmes in FP have been slow leading to the current varieties being recycled for several decades. Research tools such asfield survey, focused group discussions and key informant interviews were employed to gather information on production practices, challenges and strategies to improve FP production and utilization. Information was generated from 10 focused group discussions and 270 respondents in 5 districts. Overall, FP is produced under rain-fed agriculture by less than 30% farmers on less than ¼hectare/farmer. In Bongo, Kongo and Bolgatanga environs, FP is cultivated by over 70% of households to supplement household food. Production is primarily planned for domestic consumption; contributing up to 20% of household food between Octoberto December. Consumer preference traits included tuber size, starch, low water content, taste and ease of peeling. Key problems identified were decreasing soil fertility, lack of improve varieties, labour-intensive operations, insect pests and high postharvest losses. Crop improvement should target high yielding cultivars, large tuber size, white and pink flesh and biofortification with micro-nutrients. Processing tubers into stable preservable products using low-cost roasting, dry-frying and solar dehydration methods should be evaluated. Dissemination of current improved technologies to increase productivity requires prompt attention by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
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Journal of Plant Sciences
2013; 1(4): 68-75
Published online December 20, 2013 (http://www.sciencepublishinggroup.com/j/jps)
doi: 10.11648/j.jps.20130104.14
Sustaining Frafra potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius
Poir.) in the food chain; current opportunities in Ghana
Issah Sugri
*
, Francis Kusi, Roger Adamu L. Kanton, Stephen K. Nutsugah, Mukhtar Zakaria
CSIR-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, Manga Agriculture Station P.O. Box 46 Bawku, UER-Ghana
Email address:
suguribia@yahoo.com (I. Sugri)
To cite this article:
Issah Sugri, Francis Kusi, Roger Adamu L. Kanton, Stephen K. Nutsugah, Mukhtar Zakaria. Sustaining Frafra Potato (Solenostemon
rotundifolius Poir.) in the Food Chain; Current Opportunities in Ghana. Journal of Plant Sciences. Vol. 1, No. 4, 2013, pp. 68-75.
doi: 10.11648/j.jps.20130104.14
Abstract:
Frafra potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius Poir.)is one underutilized crop species which is critical to improving
food security in the Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana. Food dishes of Frafra potato (FP) are a delicacy
particularly for children. The tubers have high marketing potential even compared with its counterpart, sweet potato.
However, crop improvement programmes in FP have been slow leading to the current varieties being recycled for several
decades. Research tools such asfield survey, focused group discussions and key informant interviews were employed to
gather information on production practices, challenges and strategies to improve FP production and utilization. Information
was generated from 10 focused group discussions and 270 respondents in 5 districts. Overall, FP is produced under rain-fed
agriculture by less than 30% farmers on less than ¼hectare/farmer. In Bongo, Kongo and Bolgatanga environs, FP is
cultivated by over 70% of households to supplement household food. Production is primarily planned for domestic
consumption; contributing up to 20% of household food between Octoberto December. Consumer preference traits
included tuber size, starch, low water content, taste and ease of peeling. Key problems identified were decreasing soil
fertility, lack of improve varieties, labour-intensive operations, insect pests and high postharvest losses. Crop improvement
should target high yielding cultivars, large tuber size, white and pink flesh and biofortification with micro-nutrients.
Processing tubers into stable preservable products using low-cost roasting, dry-frying and solar dehydration methods
should be evaluated. Dissemination of current improved technologies to increase productivity requires prompt attention by
the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Keywords:
Coleus dysentericus, Utilization, Food Security, Underutilized Crops, Challenges
1. Introduction
Frafra potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius Poir.) Family:
Labiatae[1] is believed to have originated in Central or East
Africa, but was early spread throughout tropical Africa and
into South-East Asia, including India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia
and Indonesia, where it is cultivated on a small scale. The
crop is known in certain cycles as Coleus dysentericus
because of the assertion that it cures dysentery [1]. Other
names include: Coleus rotundifolius[2-4]; Plectranthus
esculentus[5],Coleus parviflorus[6, 7]. Some local names
include: Hausa potato (Gh), Innala (Sri La.); Kembili
(Mal.);Ketang (Indon.); Koorka (Ind.); Madagascar potato
(Fr.); Ratala (Sri La.); Saluga (Nig.); Sudan potato, Tumuku
(Nig.); Vatke (Eth.). Frafra potato (FP) is a small,
herbaceous annual, 15-30 cm high, prostrate or ascending,
with a succulent stem and somewhat thick leaves having an
aromatic smell resembling that of mint(Figure 1). Flowers
are small, pale violet in colour, produced on an elongated
terminal raceme. The tubers are small dark-brown and
produced in clusters at the base of the stem [1, 8]. The
composition of the raw tubers per 100 g edible portion is:
water 75.6 g, energy 394 kJ (94 kcal), protein 1.3 g, fat 0.2
g, carbohydrate 21.9 g, fibre 1.1 g, Ca 17 mg, Fe 6.0 mg,
thiamin 0.05 mg, riboflavin 0.02 mg, niacin 1.0 mg,
ascorbic acid 1 mg [9]. Although formerly of considerable
importance as a staple foodstuff in tropical Africa, FP has
been largely replaced by other starchy foodstuffs such as
sweet potatoes, and production has declined to such an
extent that it has almost disappeared in many areas [10, 11].
Generally, FP is a relatively under-exploited food crop in
the Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana [10, 11].
Production of FP is primarily planned for domestic
consumption, with little harvest surpluses sold to
Journal of Plant Sciences 2013; 1(4): 68-75 69
supplement household income. Earlier studies suggest that
FP is an essentially subsistence crop in Districts such as
Jirapa, Lambussie, Nadowli, Lawra, Nandom and Wa of the
Upper West Region; and Bongo, Kassena-Nankana, Bolga,
Bawku-West and Bawku-East in the Upper East Region [10,
12, 13]. Frafra potato (FP) is critical to improving food
security, and a delicacy particularly for children, with a
high marketing potential even compared with its
counterpart, sweet potato. Despite this potential, crop
improvement programmes in FP have been poor. Several
other constraints to increasing FP production have been
identified [12, 14]. These include rapid tuber deterioration
in storage, lack of healthy planting materials, pests and
diseases and declining soil fertility. High postharvest losses
(20 to 40%) and lack of appropriate postharvest
preservation methods were identified as key constraints
during the Research and Extension Linkage Committee
meeting (RELC, 2012) in Upper East Region. The tubers
show natural dormancy from 3 months after harvest,
becoming fibrous and begin to sprout. So far little research
has been conducted to improve upon tuber size which is
essential to increasing production and utilization [12].
A recent review of the state of plant and genetic
resources for food and agriculture [11] showed that food
security in Ghana could be under threat because of the
desire to intensify mono-cropping of cash and high-value
food crops. The second threat is genetic erosion; where few
varieties are replacing many less competitive varieties; or a
crop replaces other close substitute crops. For instance,
bambara groundnut is replaced by improved cowpea and
Kersting’s groundnut, and Frafra potato is replaced by high
yielding sweet potato varieties. A report by Nourishing the
Planet Project suggests that finding ways to alleviate
hunger and poverty should not always depend on only few
essential crop varieties. Instead, reigniting an interest in
the taste for indigenous and traditional foods can help
improve nutrition, increase incomes, restore agricultural
biodiversity and preserve local cultures
(www.NourishingthePlanet.org).There should be concerted
effort to maintain and improve these underutilized food
security crops to sustain food access to rural farm families
[8]. Currently, up-scaling of improved technologies for the
production and utilization of FP is one critical objective of
the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP
2A), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR),
Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Programme
(RTIMP), and Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) of
Ghana. Some current interventions include: i) providing
training and extension services on integrated pests
management strategies to FP growers; ii) increasing FP
production by deploying elite varieties to growers and; iii
collecting, characterizing and establishing database of FP
germplasm. This study seeks to review the current FP
production systems and identify strategies to increase
production and utilization for the largely smallholder
growers. The study identifies how the participation of
research-policy-extension linkages can accelerate
production, technology dissemination and utilization of FP.
It finally identifies strategies to improve upon postharvest
handling and processing, as well as training and research
needs in the FP value chain.
Figure 1. Frafra potato at different growth stages
2. Methodology
2.1. Description of Study Area
The Upper East Region (UER) of Ghana lies between
longitude 1
0
15
W to 0
0
5’E and stretches from latitude
10
0
30
N to 11
0
8
N. The region lies in the Sudan savanna
agro-ecology, which forms the semi-arid part of Ghana.
The area is part of what is sometimes referred to as interior
savanna, and is characterized by level to gently undulating
topography. Important crops include millet, sorghum, maize,
rice, sweet potato, groundnut, cowpea, soybean, cotton,
onion and tomato. The sheanut tree, which grows wild is an
important cash crop. It has alternating wet and dry seasons
with the wet season occurring between May and October
during which about 95% of rainfall occurs. Maximum
70 Issah Sugri et al.: Sustaining Frafra Potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius Poir.) in the Food Chain;
Current Opportunities in Ghana
rainfall occurs in August, and severe dry conditions exist
from November to April each year. Annual rainfall ranges
from 800-1200 mm. There is wide fluctuation in relative
humidity (RH) with as low values as 30%RH in dry season
and above 75%RH in the wet season.
2.2. Scope of Study
The study was carried out from May to June 2013;
coinciding with the beginning of the cropping season of FP.
The research tools employed were field survey, key
informant interviews and focused group discussions.
Information was generated from 10 focused group
discussions and 270 respondents from 10 communities in 5
main production districts. The districts were: Bawku-East,
Bawku-West, Talensi-Nabdam, Bongo and Garu-Tempane.
Only the major FP production communities were targeted,
and most respondents have ever cultivated FP in previous
1 to 4 years. Majority of the respondents (80%) were male,
of age 40 or above. Details of the communities and the
number of respondents are provided in Table 1.
2.3. Questionnaire Design
The questionnaire captured data on demographic
information, type of variety, source of sett for planting,
reasons for selecting a variety, current challenges, possible
training and research needs, and strategies to improve upon
current utilization. Information was also generated on
current forms of utilization, cooking methods, consumer
preference traits and postharvest processing methods.
2.4. Data Analysis
Descriptive statistics involving frequencies, matrix
ranking and central tendency were employed in data
analysis and reporting. A rapid appraisal of secondary
information on current crop improvement, production and
utilization was conducted at the Savanna Agriculture
Research Institute (SARI) and the Ministry of Food and
Agriculture (MoFA) to identify knowledge gaps for future
extension and research interventions.
Table 1. Detail description of communities participating in the survey
Districts Communities Numbers of focused
group discussions
Number of
respondents
Name ofAgriculture
Extension Agent
Bawku-East
Nikongo 1 25
A. Dominic
Tes-Natinga 1 25
Bawku-West
Tilli-Azupupuugu, 1 25
Paul Musah
Teshie, Kperigu-Soogo 1 25
Bongo
Eyelibile 1 30
K. Anane
Bongo-Soe 1 25
Garu-Tempane
Kpatia 1 30
M. Jamal-Deen
Tankpasi-Avusum 1 25
Talensi-Nabdam Sakote-Kotitab 1 30
Musah Adam
Dasabligo 1 30
Total = 5 10 10 270
3. Results
3.1. Socio-Economic Importance
The socio-economic importance and overall contribution
of Frafra potato (FP) to household livelihoods is
summarized in Table 2. The discussions showed that FP is a
relatively underutilized crop. The crop is produced by close
to 30% farmers on less than ¼ hectare per farmer under
rain-fed agriculture. The crop contributes up to 20% of
household food between October to December each year. In
Bongo, Bolgatanga and Kongo environs, the crop is
cultivated by over 70% of households to supplement
household food; albeit on less than ¼ha of farmland. It is
mainly cultivated by male family heads on fertile fields to
supplement household food. Production is primarily
planned for domestic consumption, however some harvest
surpluses are sold to supplement household income. Frafra
potato is a high value crop compared with its counterpart,
sweet potato. The produce is usually sold in nearby
community markets but a glut never occurs.
3.2. Cropping System
The group discussions showed that FP is cultivated as a
sole crop under rain-fed conditions. Planting is done on
ridges using single row spacing of 15 to 25 cm between
plants and 1m between ridges. Only sprouted setts are
transplanted at 3-5cm deep to expose the sprout. Non-
sprouted setts may never sprout again if planted. Less than
20% of farmers used double row planting on same ridge,
and less than 10% used mounds. Frafra potato is preferably
Journal of Plant Sciences 2013; 1(4): 68-75 71
planted at the onset of the rain. All the group discussions
suggest that optimum yield is obtained if planted from late-
May to mid-June, just after planting of early millet. Early
planting is hindered by late rain and animals which destroy
beds; though they do not directly feed on leaves. However,
damage caused by pigs can be substantial if planted early.
Table 2. Overall ranking of crops according to their contribution to household livelihoods
Crop
Average farm
size (ha)
% Household
cultivating
Relative involvement
of Women
Overall contribution
to householdfood
Overall contribution
to householdincome
Access to improved
varieties
Maize 2.5 95 45 80 55 90
Sorghum 1.5 90 20 70 40 40
Millet 1.5 90 20 65 35 20
Rice 0.8 60 80 40 60 60
Cowpea 1 70 40 40 50 70
Soybean 1 65 75 30 70 60
Groundnut 1 60 60 50 30 20
Bambara nut 0.5 40 50 40 15 10
Sweet potato 0.9 40 15 30 70 40
Frafra potato 0.25 30 5 20 15 5
Vegetables 0.9 70 70 40 80 50
Table 3. Characteristics of common Frafra potato varieties by respondents
Characteristics
Varieties
Black type Red type White type
Colour Black peel, white flesh Red peel, white flesh White peel and flesh
Maturity 4-5 months 4-5 months 4-5 months
Yield Yield higher Moderate yield Moderate yield
Potential yield 12 to 20 bags/ha 9 to 16 bags/ha 9 to 16 bags/ha
Consumer preference Most preferred (size) Preferred Preferred
Taste Very good Good Good
Tuber size Large Medium Medium
Soil fertility Widely adapted Poorly adapted Moderately adapted
Market value High Moderate Moderate
Ease of peeling Easy to peel Difficult to peel Easy to peel
Storage shelf life Poor Good Good
Dry weight High dry matter Watery flesh Less moisture
4. Agronomy
The discussions revealed that optimum yield is obtained
on well-drained, fertile sandy loams with high moisture
holding capacity. Heavy clay soils and water logging
conditions or fields should be avoided. Water-logging
causes tuber rot and deformities which substantially reduce
yields and marketable value. Organic manure can be
applied to soils prior to planting but not during the growth
season. Less than 10% farmers ever applied chemical
fertilizer (Single supper sulphate) in FP production.
Concurrent weeding and earthen-up (1-4 times) is
recommended. Weeds close to plants are rouge out by hand.
Gather soil close to the plant during first weeding to
facilitate good root establishment which is essential for
tuber formation. Once tuber formation commences, do not
weed with hoe, uproot weeds by hand.
4.1. Pest and Diseases
From the discussions, farmers perceived pests and
diseases as minor constraint in FP production; apparently
oblivious of the potential damage they can cause. The
leaves are less preferred by ruminant animals. Caterpillars
and termites are the major pests at the vegetative stage.
72 Issah Sugri et al.
: Sustaining Frafra Potat
Te
rmites and millipedes also bore holes into tubers causing
tuber rot during storage.
which cause leaf curling and stunting at the vegetative
stage. In a related study, [14]
identified the key pests
attacking FP as sweet pota
to butterfly (
white flies, leafhoppers, termites, grasshoppers, crickets
and millipedes. They noticed that farmers did not practice
pest control measures due to lack of technical know
However, controlling both foliar and soil pests in
tuber yields by 23-
64% over the control plots. This study
quite demonstrates the need to deploy
management strategies to reduce yield
losses
4.2. Access to Improved Varieties
Lack of improved FP varieties was identified as a critica
problem in production. The current varieties are landraces
which have been recycled for several decades. The existing
varieties were identified based on peel colour: white, red
and black (Table 3). In the Bongo district, some improved
lines were reported
ly introduced to farmers under Root and
Tuber Improvement and Marketing Project (RTIMP);
however these lines were not available again. Farmers
therefore expressed strong expectation of getting improved
varieties from Research Institutes.
Fig 2a. Frafra potatosetts are
mixed with ash, millet/sorghum
are wrapped in thatch mat and stored under shade
4.4. Utilization
The tubers may be consumed by households as main
meal, snack and sometimes under emergency situations. FP
is rarely roas
ted or fried. The black type variety is
preferred due to its la
rge tuber size and good taste. The
main consumer preference
traits were tuber size, starch,
low water content, taste/aroma
and ease of peeling. The
following describes
how the tubers are proc
consumption:
: Sustaining Frafra Potat
o (Solenostemon rotundifolius Poir.) in
the Food Chain;
Current Opportunities in Ghana
rmites and millipedes also bore holes into tubers causing
The common disease is nematodes
which cause leaf curling and stunting at the vegetative
identified the key pests
to butterfly (
Acraea acerata),
white flies, leafhoppers, termites, grasshoppers, crickets
and millipedes. They noticed that farmers did not practice
pest control measures due to lack of technical know
-how.
However, controlling both foliar and soil pests in
creased
64% over the control plots. This study
quite demonstrates the need to deploy
integrated pest
losses
.
Lack of improved FP varieties was identified as a critica
l
problem in production. The current varieties are landraces
which have been recycled for several decades. The existing
varieties were identified based on peel colour: white, red
and black (Table 3). In the Bongo district, some improved
ly introduced to farmers under Root and
Tuber Improvement and Marketing Project (RTIMP);
however these lines were not available again. Farmers
therefore expressed strong expectation of getting improved
4.3. Postharvest Operations
Three indices are employed to determine harvest
maturity in FP. These include yellowing and drying of
leaves, flowers begin to wither and drop, and expan
and cracking of ridges. These symptoms which are noticed
at close to 4 months after planting should be followed by
prompt harvestin
g to reduce postharvest losses.
harvesting was identified to be critical in reducing tuber rot
during storage. T
uber formation occurs at a radius of about
10cm around the plant. Harvesting is done using a hoe. The
soil is scooped and capsized to expose the tubers for easy
plugging, and the adventitious roots are removed. The
tubers are then sorted according to size
and cured by spreading under well ventilated dry shade for
2-
3 weeks. The large tubers are consumed or sold whiles
the small tubers are stored as sett for the next season. The
white type variety has high moisture content and usually
cured for 1-
2week before consumption. For sett storage, the
small tubers are mixed with ash or millet husk or sorghum
husk, put in airtight clay pots and stored in a cold room.
The pot is open only prior
plant
2a). The setts
may also be wrapped in a thatch mat and
hanged on a
tree or under shade of summer hut
only
sprouted setts are planted.
mixed with ash, millet/sorghum
husk and stored in clay pot sealed with cow-
dung , pot is
are wrapped in thatch mat and stored under shade
The tubers may be consumed by households as main
meal, snack and sometimes under emergency situations. FP
ted or fried. The black type variety is
rge tuber size and good taste. The
traits were tuber size, starch,
and ease of peeling. The
how the tubers are proc
essed for
1.
Boiled before peeling: the tubers are washed
thoroughly, boiled and the peel is raped by hand
and consumed
. This may be eaten alone, with a
pepper and salt sauce or with groundnut.
2.
Peeled before boiling: the peel is raped by foot,
p
ounding or kneading
spices are added and the food served to the family.
Among the Frafra households, this may be eaten
with ‘Nkogre’; a special soup made of millet,
groundnut and some spices.
the Food Chain;
Three indices are employed to determine harvest
maturity in FP. These include yellowing and drying of
leaves, flowers begin to wither and drop, and expan
sion
and cracking of ridges. These symptoms which are noticed
at close to 4 months after planting should be followed by
g to reduce postharvest losses.
Timely
harvesting was identified to be critical in reducing tuber rot
uber formation occurs at a radius of about
10cm around the plant. Harvesting is done using a hoe. The
soil is scooped and capsized to expose the tubers for easy
plugging, and the adventitious roots are removed. The
tubers are then sorted according to size
(small and large)
and cured by spreading under well ventilated dry shade for
3 weeks. The large tubers are consumed or sold whiles
the small tubers are stored as sett for the next season. The
white type variety has high moisture content and usually
2week before consumption. For sett storage, the
small tubers are mixed with ash or millet husk or sorghum
husk, put in airtight clay pots and stored in a cold room.
plant
ing in the next season (Fig.
may also be wrapped in a thatch mat and
tree or under shade of summer hut
(Fig. 2b);
sprouted setts are planted.
dung , pot is
opened prior to planting; 2b. setts
Boiled before peeling: the tubers are washed
thoroughly, boiled and the peel is raped by hand
. This may be eaten alone, with a
pepper and salt sauce or with groundnut.
Peeled before boiling: the peel is raped by foot,
ounding or kneading
and boiled. Some oil and
spices are added and the food served to the family.
Among the Frafra households, this may be eaten
with ‘Nkogre’; a special soup made of millet,
groundnut and some spices.
Journal of Plant Sciences 2013; 1(4): 68-75 73
3. Boiled and stirred: the peel is raped by foot,
pounding or kneading before cooking. It is then
over-boiled and pounded into a thick mass called
‘piesesam’, which is consumed with stew or sauce.
4. Parboiled for storage: large tubers are selected and
the peel is raped by foot, pounding or kneading
before parboiling or blanching. After parboiling, the
tubers are sun-dried for future use. This is usually
cooked latter with beans.
Table 4. Crop improvement targets requiring research and extension interventions in Frafra potato
Areas requiring improvement
Target areas
What specific improvement is required
1. Crop improvement All varieties Replace the existing 3 landraces
2. Production practices Extension Disseminate agronomic technologies to improve yield
3. Genetic conservation Research Germplasm collection, characterization and conservation
4. Vegetative, molecular
and In-vitro techniques Research Molecular, budding, and approach, cleft and splice grafting methods,
5. Maturity period All varieties Reduce maturity from 4-5 months to 3 months
6. Taste All varieties Increase sweetness, aroma and starch level, and reduce moisture content of red type
7. Size All varieties Genetic methods to increase tuber size
8. Agronomic practices Extension Cultivar selection, time of planting, spacing, fertilizer rate
9. Ease of peel All varieties Peel should be easy to rape off
10. Sensory colour Black type More bright-colour sensory appeal, orange-colour flesh
11. Fibrousness All varieties Eliminate or increase natural dormancy period
12. Shelf life All varieties Introduce improved storage and processing methods
13. Nutritional Research Bio-fortification with vitamins, orange-flesh colour
14. Utilization Extension Increase awareness on health benefits and utilization among urban consumers
15. Value addition Processing Evaluate parboiling, blanching, dehydration, roasting and frying options and packaging methods
16. Training Extension Good Agricultural Practices (agronomy, pest management, soil fertility and postharvest
managements)
4.5. Processing
Frafra potato has natural dormancy which poses as major
challenge in terms of preserving the fresh tubers. The
tubers become fibrous by 3 months after harvest and begin
to sprout. The tubers are therefore parboiled and dried to
prolong shelf life. However, this indigenous method of
preservation requires lots of improvements and packaging
to enhance the marketable value. There is no established
method of inhibiting or prolonging the natural dormancy.
There is need to evaluate different food preservation and
packaging methods to improve the marketable shelf life.
4.6. Research Gap
From the focus group discussions, Table 4 summarizes
the critical areas requiring improvement by research and
extension. These research and dissemination strategies
however will require time and resources to achieve
reasonable success. Nonetheless, overall improvements of
these targets can propel production and utilization of FP.
4.7. Constraints to Production
Table 5 enumerates the key constraints to include low
yield, lack of improved varieties, decreasing soil fertility,
labour intensive production, poor soil fertility, insect pests
and high postharvest losses. From the matrix ranking, the
most critical constraints were lack of elite varieties and
high labour requirement, followed by low yield, poor soils
and high postharvest losses. Though higher prices at
harvest turn to compensate for these challenges,
nonetheless close substitute crops such as sweet potato is
easy to produce with same resources. Other constraints
include lack of planting materials and early dormancy.
Table 5. Overall ranking of critical constraints in Frafra potato
production
Identified constraints Matrix ranking Overall rank
Lack of elite varieties ******* 7
Labour-intensive operations
****** 6
Poor soil fertility ***** 5
Low yield **** 4
High postharvest losses *** 3
Lack of planting materials ** 2
Pest and diseases ** 2
Limited market access * 1
Farmers were first asked to identify the important constraints, and further
rank the identified constraints from most important to least important.
5. Discussion
Earlier study by [10], noted that Frafra potato (FP) is
74 Issah Sugri et al.: Sustaining Frafra Potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius Poir.) in the Food Chain;
Current Opportunities in Ghana
becoming endangered in many communities even in the
major producing districts of Ghana. Thus, FP was likely to
fall out of the food basket if research and production
strategies were not put up to salvage this crop. This led to
some adaptive research during Root and Tuber
Improvement and Marketing Project (RTIMP I) from 1999
to 2004. This somewhat culminated into research to
generate some basic recommendations to improve
production and utilization of the crop. Some research
progress include: identification of critical problems of
production and intervention programmes[12]; performance
of different genotypes and response to fertilizer (NPK) and
time of planting [15]; effect of seed weight and spacing on
yield [13]; agronomic performance and integrated pests
management strategies [14]; and germplasm collection and
characterization of different accessions[8]. Fifty-six
accessions of FP from the Northern, Upper East and Upper
West Regions of Ghana have been collected and are being
conserved at the CSIR-Plant Genetic Resources Research
Institute. Morphological characterization of the germplasm
has been carried out on field grown genotypes [8]. However,
plant breeding efforts to improve the tuber size to a
commercially attractive grade still lags behind [12,16].
Though, recent experiments have demonstrated the
potential of mixing genetic materials of different FP using
vegetative propagation. Recently, [16]found that with the
exception of the approach grafting, all the grafted plants
from cleft and splice grafting produced leaves and shoots.
The splice grafting recorded highest number of leaves and
plant survival. The dormant buds used in budding recorded
higher number of leaves, longer shoots and plant survival.
Only the approach grafted plants established union between
the stocks and the scion, while the cleft and splice grafting
failed to establish a union.
Overall, the foregoing discussions apparently suggest
that farmers have continuously recycled the existing land
races which are low yielding and produce numerous small
size tubers. Rapid genetic improvements can be possible
since vegetative propagation methods such as approach,
cleft and splice grafting and budding methods have shown
some positive results. The most critical constraints
identified were lack of improved varieties, labour-intensive
production operations, poor soils and high postharvest
losses. Current interventions such as the West Africa
Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP 2A) should
attempt to bridge current research and extension gaps
identified in Table 4. This will require the active
participation of Research Institutes of the Council for
Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Universities,
Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and farmers to
achieve reasonable results. Deployment and up-scaling of
improved technologies to increase production and
utilization of FP is required. These should include Farmer
Field Schools and trainings on good agronomic practices
(GAP), integrated soil fertility management, IPM strategies,
and postharvest handling. The integration of interventions
by the WAAPP 2A and ongoing Root and Tuber
Improvement and Marketing Programme (RTIMP) needs to
be synchronized to achieve desirable results. Another
research gap yet to be addressed is the integration of FP
into the different farming systems of the savanna zone,
such as rotation and intercropping compatibility. Processing
tubers into stable preservable products, packaging and
promoting the utilization should as well be considered.
There is urgent need to evaluate simple low-cost roasting,
blanching, dry-frying and solar dehydration methods to
improve shelf life and sensory quality to reduce current
postharvest losses.
6. Conclusion
This study demonstrates the need for interventions to
sustain Frafra potato in the food chain of Ghana. Overall
interventions to achieve household food security should not
concentrate on only few major staples crops. Various
traditional and underutilized crop species need to be
included in local and national agricultural food policies and
programmes. They are essential to conserving agro-
biodiversity as well as providing special diets and food
preference needs of the indigenes of where they are
cultivated. The CSIR-Savanna Agriculture Research
Institute, and the Upper East and Upper West Regional
Directorates of Agriculture need to collaborate to accelerate
research and technology dissemination on this essential but
underutilized food crop.
Acknowledgement
We appreciate the support provided by the West Africa
Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP 2A) for the
primary data collection of this study.
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... It is also known as Hausa potato or piesa in Ghana [1][2][3]. In West Africa, Frafra potato is grown in the savanna areas of Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Mali and Burkina Faso [4,5]. The crop derives its importance from agronomic advantages in poor soils, and yield advantage with limited production inputs compared to other tuber crops. ...
... A study by Sugri et al. [5] identified 5 salient constraints in Ghana; namely low soil fertility, lack of improved varieties, labour-intensive operations, insect pests, and high postharvest losses (Plate 3). The challenges identified by Sugri et al. [5] and Tetteh and Guo, [1] were similar (Figs. 1 and 2), but occurred in different order of importance; probably due to time and location of study. ...
... A study by Sugri et al. [5] identified 5 salient constraints in Ghana; namely low soil fertility, lack of improved varieties, labour-intensive operations, insect pests, and high postharvest losses (Plate 3). The challenges identified by Sugri et al. [5] and Tetteh and Guo, [1] were similar (Figs. 1 and 2), but occurred in different order of importance; probably due to time and location of study. Similar challenges such as rapid tuber deterioration, small tuber size, ease of peeling, and short shelf-life were reported in Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. ...
... Potato, sweet potato and cassava are among the popular tuber crops that are widely consumed around the world contributing to 90% of the global production [2]. Among such tubers is a rare tuber, Plectranthus rotundifolius (synonym: Solenostemon Rotundifolius) [6], [7]; an underutilised tuber crop that is gaining interest due to its nutritional content and dietary potential [8], [9], [10], [11], [12]. Studies have been conducted to evaluate its potential to; improve diet quality [8]; ...
... Black potato originates from tropical Africa, where it is still found as a native plant in East Africa, but can now be found cultivated in other parts of the world including countries like Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia [6], [7], [9], [11], [21], [22], [23], [24], [25], [26]. Common names of this potato include Black potato, Hausa potato, Country potato, Coleus potato, Chinese potato, Zulu potato, Frafra potato, Sudan potato and "ubi kemili" [6], [17], [22], [24], [27]. ...
... It is a smallholder crop, mainly cultivated by women as subsistence food where the tubers are grown, dried and stored for times of shortage [24]. It is not primarily a cash crop, but part of the harvest is sold, from which African women have derived considerable income [6], [11], [24]. ...
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Plectranthus rotundifolius (synonym: Solenostemon rotundifolius) (black potato) is an underutilised nutrient-rich crop that has the potential to contribute to food and nutritional security. We examined the macronutrient and selected mineral content of black potato bought at a morning market located in the state of Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia. The proximate composition of the tubers observed in % were, moisture (78.14 ± 0.84); crude protein (0.84 ± 0.06); crude fat (0.48 ± 0.06); crude fibre (2.03 ± 0.12); ash (1.63 ± 0.13); carbohydrate (18.92 ± 0.73) and energy in kcal/100g (83.32 ± 3.46). The mineral content observed in mg/kg were calcium (336.57 ± 21.71), iron (48.20 ± 3.64), potassium (12025.07 ± 485.33), magnesium (1346.63 ± 101.24), sodium (68.23 ± 2.62), manganese (6.67 ± 0.21) and phosphorus (978.00 ± 7.72). Comparison of black potato with some popular tubers such as potato, sweet potato and cassava found that black potato had less crude protein and crude fat. The carbohydrate and the energy contents of black potato were within the same range as potato and sweet potato but lower than those observed in cassava. The ash content of black potato was higher than that of potato, sweet potato and cassava and it also had a higher mineral content. Compared with popular tuber crops such as potato, sweet potato and cassava, black potato was observed to have higher mineral content that fulfils the requirements of the Recommended Nutrient Intake as outlined in the Dietary Guideline for American male and female aged between 31 to 50.
... J. K. Morton] or frafra potato is one of the most widespread Lamiaceae. It is cultivated as a tuber crop in many African countries including Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Togo (in West Africa), Cameroon and Chad (in Central Africa) and some parts of South and East Africa (Schippers, 2000;Gouado et al., 2003;Sugri et al., 2013). The tubers contain significant amount of reducing sugars (25 mg), proteins (14.6 mg), phosphorus (36 mg), calcium (29 mg) and vitamins A and C (13.6 and 10.3 mg) (Anbuselvi and Balamurugan, 2013). ...
... The strategy developed by farmers to face this problem is the early planting of S. rotundifolius (Nanéma, 2010). Such strategy was also applied by farmers in Ghana (Sugri et al., 2013). Nevertheless, the long cycle of S. rotundifolius is critical for on-farm conservation of its genetic resources in a context of climate change. ...
... Council for Scientific and Industrial Research -Food Research Institute, Food Technology Research Division, P. O. Box M20, Accra, Ghana Color versions of one or more of the figures in the article can be found online at www.tandfonline.com/wcsc. October and December (Sugri, Kusi, Kanton, Nutsugah, & Zakaria, 2013). Often, yields of the Frafra potato range between 5 and 15 t/ha when environmental and planting conditions are good. ...
... Although these efforts were aimed at achieving food security within countries, there was the need also to promote lesser known crops to further diversify the portfolio of essential crops available. This was buttress by the efforts of several organizations in Ghana to maintain and improve the utilization of the Frafra potatoes (Sugri et al., 2013). Frafra potato has remained a lesser known and underutilized crop, although it has the potential to contribute to local food security and help in fighting vitamin A deficiency, especially in areas where it was cultivated. ...
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Frafra potato is an underutilized crop with enormous potential as a food security crop. Sensory attributes of bread and koose (a traditional Ghanaian pastry) produced from 10 varieties of Frafra potato flour as composite flour and nutritional values were analyzed. Bread and koose produced from partial substitution of Frafra potato flour were comparable to wholly wheat flour, especially 20% substitution with variety UW022 for bread and 30% substitution with variety UE021 for koose. Using a 9-point Hedonic scale, overall acceptability level was 7.8 for variety UW022 for bread compared to 7.9 for wheat flour, similar to koose. Variety UW022 bread was carbohydrate dense (72.58 g/100 g) whereas variety UE023 bread was richer in ash, fat, protein, crude fiber and energy. Variety UE023 koose at 20% was highest in protein content (20.75 g/100 g) but lower carbohydrates (47.3 g/100 g).
... J.K. Morton) and Coleus esculentus (N.E.) Br.) G. Taylor (old name Plectranthus esculentus N.E. Br.), but these are of minor importance (Blench 2004;Sugri et al. 2013). ...
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... S. rotundifolius belongs to the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family, a group of aromatic flowering plants with about 236 genera and 6900-7200 species [5] many of which are cultivated for their medicinal, ornamental and culinary properties. S. rotundifolius is commonly called Hausa potato in Nigeria [6][7][8]. Leaves, flowers, seeds, stem and roots of some plants from Lamiacea family have potentials to be analgesic, antipyretic, anti-fungal, anti-spasmodic, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-diabetic, anti-asthmatic, anti-diarrhoeal and antiseptic agents [5]. In addition, boiled leaves of S. rotundifolius are also used in ethnomedicine for the treatment of dysentery while results of earlier investigations suggest that the crude extract of S. rotundifolius may possess anti-diarrheal activity [6,9]. ...
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... For example, the flavonoids of Chinese potato have been reported to lower blood cholesterol (Abraham & Radhakrishnan, 2005) as well as possess high antioxidant activity (Sandhya & Vijayalakshmi, 2005). Despite these nutritional and health benefits, the importance of the crop is reported to be diminishing in Africa and Asia (Sugri, Kusi, Kanton, Nutsugah, & Zakaria, 2013) which warrants the development of value added products and efficient post harvest utilization of the crop. ...
... The region lies in the Sudan savannah agro-ecology, which forms the semi-arid part of Ghana. The area is part of what is sometimes referred to as interior savannah, and is characterized by level to gently undulating topography (Issah et al., 2013). The region has alternating wet and dry seasons with the wet season occurring between June and October during which about 95 % of rainfall occurs. ...
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Chapter
Many indigenous Nigerian plant species that served as foods several years ago are presently neglected and going extinct. The major challenge is that they are considered as food for low-income earners because there is little or no knowledge of the value additions made to these crops. Most of these species of crops are highly nutritious and can produce under marginal growing conditions therefore, they can be used to combat hidden hunger and food insecurity. This work is a compilation of research work performed over the years on some neglected Nigerian root and tuber crops: sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas); Polynesian arrowroot (Tacca leontopetaloides); water yam (Dioscorea alata); arieal yam (Dioscorea bulbifera); cocoyam (Colocasia esculanta) and Hausa potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius). The nutritional contents or food qualities of the above crops were highlighted and also the various ways of adding value to some of the crops were identified and discussed along their value chains. The purpose of this work is to bring out the need to refocus attention on these crops for increased food production, conservation of the crops and subsequent food security in Nigeria.
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Frafra potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius) is a herbaceous root tuber that is grown mainly in the northern part of Ghana. It is used as a hunger crop and brewed for alcoholic beverages. In spite of the socio-economic importance of this crop, little research aimed at improving the crop and its small tuber size has been carried out. In an effort to improve upon the agronomic performance of frafra potato, a randomized complete block design was used to conduct an experiment to determine the possibility of grafting and budding the crop. Approach, Cleft and splice graftings and budding, using dormant and actively growing buds were used to bud the crop. With the exception of the approach grafting, all the grafted plants from cleft and splice grafting produced leaves and shoots. The splice grafting recorded the highest number of leaves and plant survival. The dormant buds used in budding recorded higher number of leaves, longer shoots and plant survival. Only the approach grafted plants established union between the stocks and the scion, while the cleft and splice grafting failed to establish a union. The experiment demonstrated the potential of mixing the genetic materials of different frafra potato materials through grafting. The experiment may be improved through the use of auxin to induce the union of stock and scion.
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A survey of the production of Frafra potato (Solenostemum rotundifolius Poir) in Ghana was conducted to collect baseline data on the crop and to identify constraints to production. In all, 100 farmers who were randomly selected from 16 villages and towns in five districts in the Upper East Region and Upper West Region were interviewed between August and November 1991. Results indicated that Frafra potato is an important crop in the districts of Builsa, Kassena-Nankani, Frafra, Lawra-Nandom, Jirapa-Lambussie, Nandawli, and Wa. It is usually cultivated as a monocrop but may sometimes be intercropped with yam, okro, maize, rice, sorghum, cowpea and bambara groundnut. It is usually grown on mounds and sometimes on ridges but not on the flat. Tubers are mostly used for propagation but softwood stem cuttings can also be used. Farm sizes range between 0.05 and 1.2 h. A wild type referred to as "Tug-piece", meaning shrub potato, has been identified by farmers. Constraints to production, in descending order of importance, include rapid tuber deterioration in storage, lack of adequate planting materials, pests and diseases, and insufficient soil moisture for maturing the crop. Ghana Jnl agric. Sci. Vol.30(2) 1997: 107-113
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Surveys and farmer interviews were conducted to identify key pests attacking frafra potato. The sweetpotato butterfly, Acraea acerata, was the most frequently encountered pest, its larvae causing much of the defoliation observed on farmers' fields. White flies (Bemisia tabacci), leafhoppers, termites, grasshoppers/crickets and millipedes were also associated with the crop. However, farmers took no conscious pest control actions, due mainly to lack of technical know-how. Fresh tuber yields of the three types grown widely in the area ranged from 3–6.2 tons/ha, with the Red and Black types significantly out yielding the White during the two seasons. Controlling both foliar and soil pests increased tuber yields by 23 to 64% over the control. Copyright © 2005 Whurr Publishers Ltd.
Variation of yield and quality in Coleus mutants
  • K Vasudevan
Vasudevan K and JS Jos. 1992. Variation of yield and quality in Coleus mutants. MadrasAgric. Journal. 9(3):135-138.
In-vitroshoot regeneration of Coleus parviflorusBenth
  • M K Bejoy
  • M Vincent
  • Hariharan
Bejoy MK, A Vincent, M Hariharan. 1990. In-vitroshoot regeneration of Coleus parviflorusBenth. India J. of Plant Physi. 33(2):175-176.
Production potential and economics of tuber crop based cropping system for low lands
  • C R Mohankumar
  • Nair
Mohankumar CR and PG Nair. 1990. Production potential and economics of tuber crop based cropping system for low lands. Indian J. of Agron. 35:1-2, 44-49.
Effects of relative humidity variation on crude protein, crude fibre, fats and ash contents of Coleus potato (Plectranthus esculentus N.E.Br.) under storage
  • P M Kyesmu
  • Co Akueshi
Kyesmu PM and CO Akueshi. 1989. Effects of relative humidity variation on crude protein, crude fibre, fats and ash contents of Coleus potato (Plectranthus esculentus N.E.Br.) under storage. Nigerian J. of Bot. 2:1-7.
Crop Science and Production in the Hot Climates
  • Jy Yayock
  • G Labin
  • Jj Owonubi
  • Oc Onazi
Yayock JY, G Labin, JJ Owonubi and OC Onazi. 1988. Crop Science and Production in the Hot Climates. Macmillan Publications Ltd.