• Mutation Induction in yam (Dioscorea esculenta) for improved tuber size and nutritional qualities.

Mutation induction is an important low cost technology for crop improvement. GAEC is using mutation induction to develop new varieties of yam, cassava and cherry tomatoes. Dioscorea esculenta (also known as Chinese yam) is underutilized species threatened by genetic extinction. However, with its high number of tubers (25-50) produced per vine, it is a good food security crop. Genetic improvement of the crop is, however, constrained by production of sterile flowers and hence narrow genetic base. GAEC is therefore using mutation induction as a feasible option to improve the tuber size and other nutritional attributes.

  • Development of mutant Cherry Tomato varieties with increased lycopene content

Currently, Ghana is importing large metric tonnes of tomatoes from neighbouring countries using scarce foreign exchange.

To overcome this challenge, the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) under the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission has used mutation induction to develop four cherry tomato mutant varieties which are resistant to most tomato virus diseases, high yielding compared to their parental lines and also has high lycopene content.

The project is also focusing on domestic utilization of the crop and promote it for export in the non-traditional export sector.

  • Cocoyam germplasm collection

Cocoyam is an important food security crop due to its ability to evade drought.

However, its cultivation is limited by lack of planting materials, pests and diseases.

Being a vegetatively propagated crop, tissue culture offers the best solution for rapid multiplication of the crop.

Field germplasm have been established in BNARI to produce explants for the micropropagation of the crop.

Additionally, induced mutation will be used to broaden the narrow genetic base and also develop new crop varieties.

  • Plant Tissue Culture

Climate change dynamics, rapid human population growth coupled with changing human lifestyle are significantly affecting agricultural productivity. Thus, there is the need to develop high technological and yet innovative and very adaptive solutions to address the myriads of challenges in crop development to forestall food insecurity.

Over the years, BNARI has used this technology to produce disease free planting materials of pineapples, plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava, sugar cane and yam for farmer based groups and private individuals. BNARI has recently developed tissue culture technique for regeneration of shea plantlets using highly regenerative totipotent tissues which has the potential to overcome somaclonal variation.

Future research will focus on the use of somatic embryogenesis for mass propagation of planting materials as well as possible transformation of the crop for early maturity.

  • Protein Bait for Fruit Fly Control

The fruit fly menace has been a bane to horticultural farmers in the country. Thus, for the past decade GAEC has focused its research activities on the development of an integrated pest management system for fruit flies control using the bait technology, biopesticides and the sterile insect technique.

Through these research programmes, GAEC has developed an effective protein bait for the control of Bactrocera dorsalis.

Successful development of the protein bait has led to the establishment of a factory to scale up its production for mango farmers in Ghana. The institute is also focusing on irradiation studies and the development of a “Trap-Irradiate-Release Sterile Insert Technique (SIT) strategy for the control of the flies