Published: 24 Feb 2017 Source: University Relations Office (URO)
In order to help find a quick and efficient means of solving protein malnutrition in developing countries, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has received one million dollars from the Bill Clinton Foundation and one hundred and twelve thousand Canadian dollars from the Grand Challenge Canada to optimize the breeding protocol of the palm weevil larvae as a way of increasing small holder farmer access to animal protein and additional income. The “Akokono” Project is a collaboration between Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the Aspire Food Group, a research institute.
News of the “Akokono” Project was broken by Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, the Vice Chancellor, at the 2016 Founders’ Day Special Congregation ceremony. The palm larvae which is locally known as “akokono”, a known delicacy in the forest zone of the country, is one of the creatures KNUST and the Aspire Food Group is promoting under the project.
Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, the Vice-Chancellor, in his opening address, stated that improvement in the nutrition of citizens through indigenous means was a sure way to solve malnutrition in the country. The Vice-Chancellor noted that many villagers still feed on the larvae and as such they would benefit immensely.
He stated that years ago, “akokono” was abundant but due to climate change issues, their number has decreased. It is hoped that the larvae would be repopulated through the project. He promised that the university would ensure continuity of the project even after research funds ran out.
In his presentation on “Micro Farming and Social Impact”, Mr. Benjamin Adjei, a field supervisor on the project, stated that the palm weevil larvae was a less expensive protein-rich food with an impressive nutrient profile. He explained that “akokono” was rich in zinc, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins.
He explained that the project would help to reduce malnutrition and ensure food security among outgrowers. Project sites are Donyina, Asotwe, Bekwai all in the Ashanti Region and Jema in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The Aspire Group, according to Mr. Adjei Mensah would provide training, supervision, data collection and monthly visits to interested outgrowers by the field team. Outgrowers would also be supported with equipment such as metal wire mesh, buckets, twine, rubber bands and feed among others.
With a projected outgrower population of 400, the project currently has 113 outgrowers who are being taken through the stages of agreement, target setting, vetting criteria, market facilitation and pre-financing to ensure project sustainability.
Going forward, the project will scale up production through community-based breeding centres to breed, distribute and market “akokono”, foster the independence of the outgrowers and to conduct research at the community level. The field supervisor outlined future potential collaborations with the Department of Animal Science on agricultural waste products.
On the business side, the group hoped to collaborate with the School of Business and the Department of Economics to organise small businesses, training in marketing, financial programmes and evaluation of micro-farming for outgrowers.
Ms. Shobita Soor, President of Aspire Food Group, Ghana, stated that the project was sponsoring two undergraduate and two postgraduate students to assist in research on the project. She also revealed that they had partnered the Department of Food Science Technology to come out with products such as the “akokono” groundnut paste and biscuits.
Guests at the event sampled akokono delicacies such as soup, sauce, biscuits, ground nut paste with bread among others.