Increasing awareness, demand and use of Butternut Squash as an indigenous vegetable for the Ghanaian cuisine

Increasing awareness, demand and use of Butternut Squash as an indigenous vegetable for the Ghanaian cuisine

As part of activities to increase demand for butternut squash for both domestic and export market, Kukobila Nasia Farms had developed a Homemade Butternut Squash Recipe Brochure to increase awareness and knowledge of the vegetable and also boost the consumption and integrate of butternut squash into Ghanaian dishes.  “We are doing this to ensure this kind of vegetable appeals to the Ghanaian community and erase the current notion people have believing it is for the foreign niche market.” The Director of Kukobila Farms, Hisham Seidu explained. The brochure has been uniquely designed to have different Ghanaian recipes with inclusion of butternut squash either used as a substitute for commonly used vegetables like eggplants or complements to other vegetable sauce or soups. These brochures will be made available at Supermarkets & sales outlets for easy accessibility.

Kukobila produces about 6 tons per hectare of butternut squash after every production cycle of which 80% serves the local market and other medium to high end Supermarkets in Ghana. The rest of the 20% which are not in good condition to be sold, are used as animal feed for Kukobila’s livestock. Spanning over the period of 2015/16, Kukobila has cultivated about 12 hectares of butternut squash. There are negotiations to firm up decision to resume export activities for this vegetable to the EU and other markets. Kukobila has also stated some negotiations for processing this butternut squash into readily available puree.

Outgrower Support

Kukobila has about 17 outgrowers who are engaged actively in the cultivation of this vegetable with about 20 more of these outgrowers on standby due to availability of market. Others are also engaged in the production of Okra and other local leafy vegetables for the Ghanaian market. Kukobila’s outgrowers have been trained on the processes involved in efficiently producing and harvesting quality and healthy butternut since the vegetable is fairly new to some outgrowers. Some of the protocols outgrowers are taking through during our training sessions are, spraying techniques, crop protection, identifying and control of pest and diseases, irrigation techniques and efficient water management. Farmers are also provided with the requisite inputs such as quality seeds and irrigation facilities to enhance production.

Challenges

Access to market for butternut squash seems not to be readily available as the vegetable is not well known in the Ghanaian market. Challenges with outgrowers is something Kukobila is battling with up North as people here  have a different attitude towards work because of the kind of assistance given them freely and effortlessly. “Outgrowers are always expectant of free assistance without any commitment on their part. Once it is not free, expressing of interest to get involve is minimal or sometimes zero” Mr. Seidu explained. We are currently working on strategies to deal with this serious situation as it is widely affecting the development and production qualities of many farmers up North.

There are high cost of utilities for operationalizing the irrigation system of Kukobila and high cost of transporting produce to available market especially the urban centres which proves to be a viable market source for Butternut Squash.

Way Forward

Kukobila is strategizing to increase cultivation of butternut Squash to more than 20 hectares, expand our Outgrower outreach and monitoring as well as develop our products lines for both the domestic & export market. We will engage more for opportunities in new markets across the globe and new ways of making this vegetable appeal to the Ghanaian market. “We are looking at moving about 90% of our irrigation activities to solar to avoid the high cost of operation of our irrigation system and making available affordable irrigation equipment to outgrowers within our reach.

We are developing a system for storage of harvested produced for the market. An attractive packaging system will be developed to make produce more attractive for the market. We are looking at having a semi-processed butternut readily available for the market. Another venture that Kukobila is exploring is to engage authorities of the Ghana School Feeding Program to incorporate butternut squash in the meals of children as it serves as a good source of nutrients for the human body. GhanaVeg

For further information, kindly contact Director of Kukobila, Hisham Seidu 00233 (0) 264988197