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Ghana to start cultivating sunflower in large quantities in 2024

Accra, Aug.23.GNA-The Tropical Agricultural Marketing and Consultancy Services (TRAGRIMACS) Wednesday launched a Ghana Sunflower Project for the cultivation of sunflower in large quantities in the country from 2024.

The project will be supported by the Crop Science Department of the University of Ghana (UG) and the Chemistry Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Mr Issah Sulemana, Chief Executive of TRAGRIMACS, said the project was expected to substitute the importation of sunflower oil into the country in line with the National Policy on Agricultural Industrialisation.

Presently, Ghana imports a minimum of USD 4 million worth of sunflower oil yearly for fish processing companies, which in turn exports fish flakes in sunflower oil to the tune of USD 147 million annually.

This is because the fish processing companies are mandated by the US Food and drugs Authority to use sunflower oil to prepare fish flakes.

Mr Sulemana said the sunflower business in Ghana was worth over USD152 million as more homes had embraced the usage of sunflower oil due to its health benefits.

He said the production of sunflower oil would also contribute to mitigating the impact of climate change and gain some carbon credit for Ghana.

“With its impact on climate change, the biodiesel extracted from sunflowers can be burnt to reduce carbon imprint in the environment, sunflowers also grow well in grasslands and can be used to reclaim all lands degraded by galamsey,” he said.

He said the project would boost income generation for farmers to help alleviate poverty.

Mr Sulemana said the project will partner the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) and that the launch of the project was necessitated by the global decline of sunflower oil production due to the Ukraine war, saying Russia and Ukraine were the main producers and suppliers of sunflower oil to most parts of the world.

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant with a sizeable daisy-like flower face.

The flowers come in many colors yellow, red, orange, maroon, brown, but are commonly bright yellow with brown centres that ripe into heavy heads filled with seeds.

Sunflower is valued as an economic and ornamental plant.

The leaves are used as fodder, the flowers yield a yellow dye, and the seeds contain oil and are used for food.

The sweet yellow oil obtained by compression of the seeds is considered equal to olive or almond oil for table use.

Sunflower oil cake is used for stock and poultry feeding, the oil is also used in making soap and paints and as a lubricant.

The seeds may be eaten dried, roasted, or ground into nut butter and common in birdseed mixes.