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Dr. Solomon Gyan Ansah


In Ghana the price for meat and fish is too expensive for many people. That means some suffer from lack of protein in their diet. But Solomon Gyan Ansah believes he has one answer that can help solve this problem: develop a better cowpea. Gyan 39 was the fifth of six children to a mother who was a primary school teacher and a father who helped oversee the inspection of cocoa produced in Ghana to obtain the best quality. Now mid-career he sees himself as being on a mission. Agricultural advances he said could vastly improve the lives of people in his country. "If you talk about food security in Ghana the prices of meats and fish are very high " he said. "Protein from fish and meat are essential to the body but proteins from a plant source are also very helpful. If we make those proteins more widely available and combine that with cereals we are producing for our people it will help immensely." Solomon studied crop science and then earned a master's degree in maize breeding at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He has worked at the Crop Services Directorate at the Ministry of Agriculture. For the last several years he has been a Legumes Commodity Officer inspecting crops conducting research and giving presentations to committees that oversee the production of legumes in Ghana. For much of his work he is out in the field talking with farmers and learning their issues. For the last five to 10 years farmers in the North especially the Upper West Region of Builsa have been dramatically hurt by Cercospora leafspot disease that has sharply reduced cowpea yields to about 0.7 tons per hectare. That cut the cowpea production by roughly half compared to previous years. "I would like this project to equip me with conventional and molecular plant breeding tools to increase those yields " he said. "I want to focus on finding a cowpea that is high yield as well as resistant to pests and diseases." For Solomon the potential reward is great - for everyone in Ghana and perhaps beyond. "I've realized that I would like to produce my quota. What can I contribute to my country? That is my thought that is my challenge." /td