A new water retainer technology to help address drought and dehydration in tree crops and cocoa has been imported into Ghana from Hungary and is to be supplied to farmer groups and co-operatives recognised by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
The Hungarian technology is to help address the current challenges of drought and dehydration in Ghana and adverse effects of climate change.
According to the Chairman of the Ghanaian Hungarian Business Council, Kofi Asmah, this is a positive development that will be another important milestone in bilateral relations and a timely intervention as the planting season commences across Ghana.
He indicated that there are funds available from the Hungary EXIM Bank to support viable and sustainable projects that are approved in agriculture, water and sewage sectors.
The development is following the recent visit by the Hungarian President, János Áder to Ghana, who after talks with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo described Ghana as a country with a “promising economy and a stable, democratic system” which occupies a “prominent role” in Hungary’s Africa policy.
The talks between the two presidents touched on two model farms built in Ghana with Hungarian assistance, using Hungarian experience in developing grains and plants that tolerate various climates.
The unpredictable rainfall pattern in Ghana due to climate change means that most tree crop and cocoa farmers in the Ashanti, Bono, Ahafo and Western North regions are likely to miss production targets this year.
This has severe implications for Ghana’s economy which relies heavily on returns from the export of cocoa and other tree crops.
The water retainer developed by Hungarian company, Water&Soil Kft is an organic soil conditioner that helps plants to take-up water and diminish the effects of drought and dehydration.
Water&Soil has pledged to supply water retainer to all farmers in Ghana whose crops are affected by the harsh weather conditions.
Water retainer has already been evaluated on cocoa, vegetables and other crops and was approved by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in 2020.
How it works
According to Professor Samuel Nsiah-Adjei of the Forest and Horticultural Crops Research Centre of the University of Ghana and an International Research Scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, water retainer, which is developed by Water and Soil Company of Hungary, can transform agriculture in Ghana by improving soil moisture by between 30-40 percent over current conditions.
The water retainer improved soil moisture conditions of fields used for tests with significant improvement on the cocoa plot due to differences in the soil textural characteristics of the plots.
When water retainer application was combined with mineral fertilizer application to cocoa seedlings, soil moisture conservation was more effective and this translated into improved growth of seedlings, according to Prof Nsiah-Adjei.
This development, he said was encouraging due to the increasing high mortality rate of cocoa seedlings as a result of relatively poor climate conditions in Ghana.
He said most cocoa trees are fruiting but lack of rain is causing the pods to fall prematurely.
This year the rains have delayed and yields from cocoa have been reducing from 2020 due to change in weather.
How water retainer comes in
The Water Retainer is designed to reduce the impact and to initiate adaptation to the climate change and it results in increased microbiologic life activity, increases crop yield, helps better germination, reduces salinization making farming possible in very dry areas and provides good ROI to farmers.
The Water Retainer is an organic soil-conditioning product. Generally, its effects last 3 months, during which period – pending appropriate application of the Water Retainer – the soil’s water retainment ability is substantially increased.
With Water Retainer crops can survive the drought period much longer (1-2 times longer) in rain-fed cultivation resulting in a 14 – 37 percent yield increase.
The farmer can save even up to 50 percent of its irrigation water and cost in irrigated cultivation. The product is registered to be used in organic farming, he added.
Applying this excellent ability in the developmental stage of plants, the benefits in better root development and better hydration will last for the whole cultivation period.
Prof Nsiah-Adjei, who is a trained Agronomist and holds a PhD degree in Production Ecology and Resource Conservation from Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Netherlands, recommends that farmers need to adopt good agronomic practices and modern technology to increase yields.
Water retainer can be applied by either spraying on the surface or solved in the irrigation water, with different levels of dilution possible.
In time, the Water Retainer will attach itself to both the roots of the plant and the soil grains, thus allowing water – either by rain or irrigation – entering the soil to trickle down to the water table, increasing water reserve.
The Water Retainer springs into action when vapour streams its way upwards though the capillaries, trapping vapour and transforming it into tiny droplets of water.
These droplets can be drawn upon by plant roots to absorb water.
Meanwhile, the product sprayed on the surface also traps air humidity. Water Retainer works with all types of plants, and on all types of soil.
This soil conservation technology is endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and is already in use successfully in India, Hungary, South Africa, Morocco, and Kenya and seven other countries.