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Ho Technical University re-engineers domestication of baobab plant

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The Department of Agro-Enterprise Development of the Ho Technical University (HTU) has broken new grounds in the re-engineering of baobab seedlings domestically for multiplication in a stress-free manner.

Dr Kenneth Fafa Egbadzor, the Principal Investigator of the research, said the team had broken fresh grounds towards making the cultivation of the plant lucrative, stress-free and would be easier to grow for commercial purposes.

He said the baobab plant took some 27 months to reach the flowering stage at engineering even after suffering some agronomic practices including stray animals and from humans, affirming its accolade ‘wooden elephant,’ to match its resilience.

Naturally, he said the earliest flowering of a baobab tree takes at least 14 years in West Africa with elsewhere taking 17-27 years.

Dr Agbadzor said the team was motivated by the over 300 different uses of the plant with species name, Adansonia digitata, which cut across various industries including food, cosmetics, medicine and art.

He said for instance the vitamin C, zinc and iron content of the plant, whose all parts are edible makes the plant most important in this era of desertification and climate change.

He said some researchers believe baobab is the most important plant on earth but remained undomesticated and under-utilised.

“We argued in a recent review to be published soon that baobab could be more important economically than the country’s foreign exchange earner, the cocoa. We are advocating that baobab be added to the tree crops selected by the government for development.”

The Principal Investigator added that the HTU had adopted the baobab plant and would no longer be an orphan plant.

He appealed to duty-bearers and all interested parties to support the HTU to escalate the research to meet the local and international market demand of the ‘magic plant’, adding “domesticating and cultivation of baobab will greatly contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Professor Ben Q. Honyenugah, Vice-Chancellor of HTU, commended the Faculty of Applied Science and Technology for re-engineering the baobab to flower at 27 months, a feat that should inspire that with determination all was possible.

He said the plant played a critical role to the ecosystem and domesticating it would solve the myriads of issues pertaining to desertification.

He is optimistic the food department of the University would explore new grounds or recipes in line with the University’s motto, “Adanu Nazu Kekeli – meaning “Knowledge should transform into light” status.

He appealed to all development agencies to support the HTU to continue to play a critical role in the economy and get the desired results.

Prof Honyenygah appealed to members of the public to avoid going to experimental or demonstration farms, which could harbour dangerous chemicals that may be injurious to the health of stray animals, intruders and the larger public.

Prof Christopher Mensah, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science and Technology, said the Faculty was experimenting on the effectiveness of applying urine as manure on maize with initial results pointed to higher yields compared to the use of fertilizers.

He said the research would be scaled-up and believed it would facilitate food security of the country and beyond.

Source: GNA

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