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4th Call - Professor Daniel Obeng-Ofori

Project Title: Sustainable Forest Conservation and Alternative Community Livelihoods through Silk Farming for Poverty Alleviation in Ghana

Principal Investigator: Prof. Daniel Obeng-Ofori (Department of Crop Science)

Email Address: dobeng@ug.edu.gh/ danielobengofori@yahoo.com

Award Amount: GHC 23,835

Project Status: Completed

Summary:

All over the world, most research has focused on the harmful insects (pest of crops and vectors of diseases) and their control, thereby neglecting the beneficial insects that can be utilised to improve the quality of life of humans. Silk farming or sericulture is an emerging agro-based enterprise that can be managed sustainably to offer income to rural communities, especially the resource-poor to conserve the fast depleting biodiversity. This enterprise is well established in some Asian countries such as China, Japan and India. A few African countries have made modest progress in sericulture, namely South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria. Sericulture is labour intensive and the availability of labour and the prevailing suitable climate can boost this venture in Ghana. What is lacking is the research support to make this enterprise sustainable. This study seeks to develop an innovative package that will invigorate silk farming (both domesticated and wild) in Ghana as a major income generation activity for resource-poor rural communities to fully participate in forest conservation by engaging in silk farming activities in a sustainable manner. The study will be participatory involving all stakeholders (farmers, University of Ghana (UG), ARPPIS Students, Sericulture Association of Ghana, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Forestry Commission, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research). A nation-wide survey will be conducted in the forest regions of Ghana to assess the current status of sericulture industry in Ghana. Nine good yielding mulberry cultivars, three each from Ghana, Kenya and India will be screened in the field for their effectiveness in terms of their cocoon quality when utilised to feed the silkworms. These cultivars will be fed a superior race of silkworm of B. mori (known as ICIPE 1) from Kenya and other promising silkworm races from abroad to identify the best races based on the local climate. This experiment will identify the best mulberry cultivars and silkworm races for multiplication in Ghana. The Improved mulberry and silkworm races will be established along the buffer zones and farmlands of selected forests to enhance the production of silk. These farms will be managed sustainably in order to conserve the silkworms and their host plants which will improve the forest cover in Ghana and will have a positive impact on climate change. This will minimise the pressure on our core forests zones for livelihoods. A base line survey will be undertaken across the country to determine the spatial distribution of wild silkmoth species and their host plants. Between 20-50 of each of the host plants will be randomly selected at each location for sampling for larvae or cocoons of the wild silkmoths. A Global Positioning System will also be used to map the distribution of the silkmoths and their host plants. Relevant stakeholders will be trained in modern sericultural practices to help manage this enterprise by conducting appropriate research to improve sericulture which is expected to offer income to farmers for their livelihood enhancement. The baseline obtained from this work will form the basis for the second phase of the project which will look at the establishment of a silkworm grainage in Ghana and the post-harvest processing of silk cocoons into yarns that will be woven into silk fabric. The UG will remain the core research Centre in all these activities in collaboration with all other stakeholders and donors for a common goal. This study will increase the awareness of communities and national institutions of the ecological and economic importance of insects and their forest habitats. Three M.Phil students will be trained under the project.

Findings:

  • There was an increase in cocoon production and farmers participation when sericulture started formerly in Ghana in 1992. However, farmers’ interest in sericulture has dwindled over the years due to certain challenges in cocoon production; processing and marketing. At the moment only mulberry sericulture is being practised in Ghana. Wild sericulture is non-existent.
  • The wild silkmoth survey has recorded for the first time an important wild silkmoth species, Gonometa sp. in Ghana.
  • It was evident from the results of the study that the application of inorganic N sources increased growth, leaf yield and quality of mulberry plants compared to the control.
  • NPK application resulted in the highest leaf yield, protein and mineral content of mulberry leaves.
  • Among the varieties, S-36 gave the highest leaf yield and quality except number of leaves and mineral content which was highest in Mysore local.
  • Silkworm hybrids Z/Y, G-2, and ICPE 1, when fed on mulberry variety S-36 were identified among other hybrids and varieties as those well-suited for silkworm rearing with high yields and quality cocoon and silk fibre production.

Publications from the Grant:

  • Effect of three mulberry varieties on quality of cocoons and silk fibre produced by five bivoltine silkworm (Bombyx mori L.) strains in Coastal Savannah Agro- Ecological zone, Ghana

(Journal of Economic Entomology).

  • Food consumption, utilization and development of five bivoltine silkworm (Bombyx mori L.) strains fed with three mulberry varieties in the Coastal Savanna zone, Ghana

(Under preparation).

  • Survey of wild silkmoth sp. in Ghana.

(Under preparation)

  • The status of sericulture in Ghana.

(Under preparation).

  • Influence of inorganic nitrogen on growth, leaf yield and quality of mulberry plant, Morus alba L.) in the Coastal Savanna agro-ecological zone of Ghana.

(Under preparation).