The study was carried out in the Dormaa Ahenkro District of Brong Ahafo Region in Ghana to assess the effect of different storage methods on some quality characteristics of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) grains of Nhyria, Tona and Soronko which were identified as the most popular cultivated varieties in the district. Purposive sampling was used in the selection of the five (5) communities from Dormaa Ahenkro district to participate in the research. The communities selected were Kosane, Asikesu, Atesikrom, Besease and Badukrom. However, simple randomized sampling was used to select ten (10) farmers from each community and fifty (50) cowpea marketers, of which twenty two (22) were wholesalers and twenty eight (28) were retailers. The study determined the effect of different storage methods on the proximate and mineral composition. Other quality characteristics such as live insect count, dead insect and grains with holes were also assessed during the three (3) month of storage. Proximate and mineral composition was carried out on the cowpea varieties before storage. The storage methods; drum (with no chemical), drum with phosphine tablet and hermetic bag. Majority (50%) of the active farmers was within the age ranged of 30 - 40 years and that of the cowpea marketers were 20-29 years. Majority (70%) of the farmers had secondary education. The field survey revealed five varieties under cultivation by the farmers. They were; “Uganda” (white with black-eye), “Mallam adamu” (red), “Soronko variety, Nhyira variety and Tona variety. The major storage methods used were storage rooms (10%), nylon bags (40%), empty drum (36%) and hermetic bag (4%). Ninety two (92%) of those that stored their produce in storage rooms do regular spraying to prevent disease and pest infestation. Thirty two (32%) of the marketers (wholesalers and retailers) adopted good sanitation measures to prevent disease and pest infestation. The major challenges during storage are disease and pest attack (80%), theft (16%) and not well dried cowpea grains (4%).The live insect count for the three varieties ranged from (0.74– 0.82) with no significant difference occurring among the varieties. Mortality rate was higher in the Nhyira cowpea variety during the three (3) month of storage period. It was observed that 68% and 8% of the marketers (wholesalers and retailers) used actellic, used phosphine tablet respectively. The high crude protein, crude fibre, moisture and ash content before and after storage suggested that the differences observed are mainly genetic. The low level of reduction in cowpea grain quality in terms of available live insect, dead insect and grains with holes was correlated to the level of infestation by the Callosobruchus maculatus.

Cowpea is a food grain legume that plays an important role in the lives of millions of people in Africa and other parts of the developing world. The crop is also a valuable and dependable commodity that produces income for many small holder farmers and traders in Sub-Saharan Africa (Langyintuo et al., 2003). In West Africa, cowpea is grown mostly in subsistence farming systems and on a small scale in the lowland dry Savannah and Sahelian regions. However, cowpea cropping systems are changing to monocropping as the crop’s economic importance increases. The cultivation of cowpea in Ghana is carried out mostly in the transitional zone of northern guinea savannah zone of Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions. The major season for cowpea cultivation is from May to August. However, a few resourceful farmers who can protect their cowpea plants against field pests plant around late July or early August, and harvest in October. Production of cowpea in Ghana is among the lowest in the world in terms of yield, averaging 310 kg/ha (IITA, 2009). Hence, efforts have been made to improve cowpea production in Ghana through various means including the introduction of new varieties.

In Africa, cowpea is the most popular legume and the largest part of the world production originates from this continent. Cowpea is adapted to stressful environments where other crops fail. It is a food security crop in the semiarid zone of West and Central Africa (WCA) which ensures farm household subsistence food supply even in dry years. Recently, FAO, (2009) estimated the world production area as 5.6 million hectare, of which at least 90% is in West and Central Africa, and the annual world grain production is estimated at 2.7 million tonnes. World cowpea production was estimated at 3 319 375 MT and 75% of that production is from Africa (FAOSTAT, 2000). The principal cowpea producing countries are Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Ghana, Mali, and Burkina Faso (FAOSTAT, 2000). Nigeria is the largest cowpea producer in West Africa. Post-harvest insect pest of cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the major factors that reduce the nutritional quality and economic value of the grain (FAOSTAT, 2000). In anticipation of losses during storage producers sell at harvest when the price is lowest. The principal pest is the cowpea bruchid, Callosobruchus maculatus (F.), but other bruchids cause losses as well. The losses have been attributed to improper methods used in grain storage. The high losses occurring after storage compels wholesalers and retailers not to buy in large quantities and store for future sale/usage. Many cowpea chain agents are not sure of what storage methods to use to reduce economic losses. The nutritional benefits associated with cowpea consumption are clear and cannot be over emphasized. Since cowpea is locally consumed in so many forms in Ghana, there is the need to derive maximum benefit from its production to boost the nutritional needs of the populace. The various stakeholders involved in the distribution chain therefore needs information on the various storage methods and how they impact the quality of the grains after storage especially Nhyira, Asomdwee, Adom, Soronko and Tona varieties which is the most preferred varieties and highly nutritious in Ghana. As a result of these uncertainties further research is needed to identify an acceptable storage method and establish the possible effects of the various storage methods on the quality of cowpea grains.

The main objective of this research, therefore, was to determine the effect of different storage methods (traditional use of empty drum, the use of phosphine tablet and the use of hermetic bag) on the quality characteristics of Tona, Nhyira and Soronko cowpea grains.

The specific objectives were to determine the;

i. Various storage methods (traditional use of empty drum, the use of phosphine tablet and the use of hermetic bag) used by farmers and cowpea dealers in the Dormaa Ahenkro district

ii. Storage methods (traditional use of empty drum, the use of phosphine tablet and the use of hermetic bag) that best preserves cowpea (Tona, Nhyira and Soronko) grains quality during storage.

iii. Effect of the various storage methods on the proximate and mineral composition of cowpea grains after storage

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 77 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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