Hibiscus cannabinus L., commonly called Roselle, is an important vegetable among subsistence farming households especially in most developing countries. Never the less, the productivity of maize and Roselle under intercropping arrangements is not well known. The research work on effects of intercropping and cropping systems on post harvest quality of maize and Roselle was done to determine the agronomic performance of the intercrop systems, post- harvest quality and also profitability of the intercrop arrangements. The study showed that sole maize and sole Roselle produced the highest yields per hectare compared with the intercrop systems. Within the intercrop systems, 2:2 intercrop arrangements also produced the highest grain yield of maize and Roselle leaf yield (1685.4kg and 16981.3kg/ha respectively). The least yield was produced by 1:2 of both maize and Roselle. However, the combine effect of intercropping maize and Roselle in two rows of maize and two rows of Roselle produced the highest yield and accrued profits. The least was produced by 1:2 intercrop arrangements. All the intercrop system or arrangements save significant proportion of land that otherwise will be needed by a mono cropping pattern to yield the same results. However, one row of maize and two rows of Roselle (1:2) arrangements do not save land and therefore it is not economically prudent to embark on 1:2 arrangements of maize and Roselle in the intercrop system. Monitoring of Roselle fresh leaf shelf life showed that by day two, Roselle leaves shrivel and takes three days for the leaves to completely change colour from the original green. The study also revealed that Ca, Zn, Pb, Cu, N, P, PH, TSS, TTA percentages in Roselle leaves are independent of any of the plant arrangements. However, the intercrop system has effects on Mg concentration in Roselle leaves. Two rows of maize and two rows of Roselle (2:2) arrangements contain the least percentage of Mg whiles one row of maize and one row of Roselle (1:1) arrangement had the highest Mg levels accumulated in the leaves.

The percentage concentration of crude protein and carbohydrates are very high in Roselle leaves within the intercrop arrangement than sole cropping. However, increasing the number of rows of Roselle and reducing the number of rows of maize reduces the crude fat concentration in Roselle leaves but reducing the number of rows of Roselle and increasing the number of rows of maize results in increase in crude fibre content in the leaves of Roselle. These findings will be very useful especially to farmers.

Intercropping refers to the growing of more than one crop in a particular field at the same time to enhance their interaction in order to improve productivity so as to avoid over dependence on one crop (Wolfswinkel, 2006). The main purpose of intercropping is to provide optimun harvest within a given parcel of land taking into consideration efficient use of resources that would not

be possible under sole cropping (Ouma et al., 2010). According to Ouma et al. (2010), various intercrop patterns have been identified to include strip intercropping, row intercropping, mixed intercropping and relay intercropping which refers to planting a second crop amongst the first growing crop which is in its reproductive stage but before harvesting.

The   benefits  of   intercropping  systems   are   enormous.   According  to   Pawan   et   al.   (2012) intercropping of compatible plants encourages biodiversity. Biodiversity in the intercrop system means more benefits resulting in risk spreading and limiting out breaks of crop pest. Intercropping system also results in improved and diversified crop yield, increased available fodder and organic manure, enhanced soil fertility, soil cover, pest and disease control, weed control, physical support in the case of maize and climbing beans, and micro climate amelioration (Wolfswinkel, 2006). Intercropping improves food and income security and ultimately contribute towards reducing poverty and starvation among households.

Maize (Zea mays) belongs to Poaceae family and the tribe Andropogoneae and originates from south-eastern Mexico. Maize is described as an annual crop as it grows to complete its life cycle within one season and it is grown almost everywhere in the world (Winter, 2009).There are about fifty (50) varieties of maize that exist with many colours ranging from e.g. black in the range o white to yellow (http://www.iita.org/maize, 2014). Maize is a cereal crop of immense importance to the economy of every nation. FAO, (2009) reported that the largest producer of maize is the United States representing 42% and the production of maize in the world is about 785 million tons. The report further stated that 6.5% of the maize is produced in Africa with Nigeria being the largest producer - nearly 8 million tons. Second to Nigeria is South Africa. Indeed, 28% of maize required by Africa is imported. The production of maize is mainly rain fed in Africa and erratic rain fall can cause famines, food insecurity, family conflicts, slow down national development of a country especially during droughts (http://www.iita.org/maize, 2014).

The most widely cereal crop cultivated and consumed in Ghana is Maize (FASDEP II, 2007). The production of maize is 50%-60% of the total volume of cereals produced in the country (FASDEP II, 2007). The production of maize ranks second to cocoa. Other crops such as cassava, yam, oil palm, groundnut, plantain, sorghum, cocoyam, cowpea, and other pulses come after maize (http//www.dtma.cimmyt.org, 2014).

The production of maize in Ghana has not changed with regards to yield and hectares cultivated due partly to the dependence of low adoption of improved farming practices. In Ghana, the total hectares of maize cultivated is about one million hectares (1000000ha) and the average yield per hectare is 1.74 metric tons (MT) per hectare and the total volume of maize produced in the country is 1.65 million MT per annum (http://www.iita.org/maize, 2014).

Maize grains are said to be rich in nutrients. According to IITA, (2009) report, the nutritional composition of maize includes carbohydrates for energy, minerals, vitamins (Vit. A, C, and E) and 9% protein. Dietary fibre and calories are also present in maize. Ensminger, (1994) reported that maize provides a good source of starch. The popular use of corn starch (maize flour) is for domestic cooking and other food products. Cooking oil and gluten are also obtained from Maize.

The report further stated that maize starch can be enzymatically treated and hydrolyzed to produce syrups, especially high-fructose corn syrup, and a sweetener. Alcohol - a traditional beverage is also obtained from maize grains.

According to Boateng et al, (1990) revenue obtained from crop sales is about 16.8% in Ghana and the revenues obtained by ultra-poor people from crop sales is 8.5%. Indeed, maize production and marketing creates job opportunities for the youth especially women. Its job opportunities are in the areas of production, processing, transportation, storage and marketing. It is one of the major areas of research partly due to its immense contribution to the Gross Domestic products of Ghana (FASDEP II, 2007).

Roselle (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) is a prominent vegetable crop grown in the tropics. Roselle crop belongs to the family Malvaceae (Bahaeldeen, 2012). Roselle is mainly produced by small holder farmers in localised growing conditions, depending on rainfall and natural soil fertility without using inorganic chemicals. A small portion of the crop produced is used locally whiles the larger portion of it is exported to China (Ahmed et al., 2012). Roselle popularly called kenaf is commonly cultivated locally in a mixture with cereals and legumes especially in the Guinea savannah ecological zones. However, the intercrop systems have not been well studied (Babatunde, 2000).

The economic importance of Roselle cannot be over emphasized. Vegetative parts of Roselle (young shoots, leaves and calyxes) are used to prepare vegetable soup and also as vegetable sauce. Dried calyxes of Roselle are also used to prepare sugaring colour tea. Beverages such as syrup, jams and jellies are prepared from the calyx. Roselle succulent leaves and shoots are consumed raw after they are well washed. The calyces of Roselle are also a good source of fodder for livestock feeding in Africa. The seed of Roselle contains oil which is used in soap making and cosmetic (Mehdi et al., 2013). In addition, oil extracted from the seed is used for making paint and for domestic food preparation. Again, Roselle seeds are used to prepare various dices in some villages (Bahaeldeen, 2012). The calyxes, leaves and young shoots have been known to have high medicinal and nutritional value (Bahaeldeen, 2012). Roselle provides income to the rural poor and therefore contributes to reducing food and income insecurity. Pau (2002) reported that Roselle is of increases the production of nitric oxide in the body and reduces blood pressure through oxidizing lipids.

In Ghana, the majority of the people are food insecure, with the highest densities of such people living in the three northern regions (WFP, 2010). Ghana is said to have 1.2 million people suffering from food insecurity. Upper west is the most suffering with about 34% of the populace in the region engulfed in food insecurity. Upper east ranks second with about 15% of the populace suffering whiles 10% of the population in Northern region are not left out. This approximately amounts to 453,000 people (WFP, 2009).

As part of the research work done by Africa Rising Project under the auspices of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the 2013 technical report revealed that agriculture is rain fed and predominant by small scale crop farmers in all the communities in Northern Ghana. The dominant cultivated cereal crop in Northern Ghana is maize, sorghum, rice and millet. The cereal crops are usually cultivated as a single crop in pure stand and sometimes mixed cropped with grain legumes and vegetables. Vegetables (Roselle, pepper and okra) in particular are considered as women‟s crop and are therefore usually planted as a boundary crop at the periphery of farms (Hoeschle-Zeledon, 2013). Crop yields are therefore low as a result of erratic rainfall, poor agronomic practices (particularly failing to achieve required plant density), low soil fertility, drought, poor access to improved seeds, diseases and pests (Striga hermonthica). Inadequate knowledge in intercropping options and low technological drive highly contribute to low yields (Hoeschle-Zeledon, 2013). This problem is also highlighted by Quaye (2008) who added that agricultural land is becoming scarce due to the burgeoning population. There is therefore high competing demand for land for crop cultivation and other infrastructural development.

Whiles crop yields keep dwindling, huge quantities of grains and vegetables go down the drain as post-harvest losses each year increasing the hunger gap situation in sub-Sahara Africa. Hence farm inputs such as fertilizers, water, labour and other resources being wasted and reducing the profit margin of crop production (Niculescu Et al., 2013). The causes of postharvest losses are enormous. These include; inappropriate harvesting methods, handling procedures, drying techniques, filth or contamination, attacks by rodents, birds and other animals and pests such as insect damage and infestation by food-borne pathogens (World Bank/NRI/FAO, 2011). The post-harvest losses of fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers are very high and ranges between 20-50%. The losses in cereals and legumes is moderately high ranging from 20% - 30%. This is due to poor production and harvesting techniques and partly due to poor transportation and lack of adequate storage and packaging facilities. This makes most farmers to sell their produce in the open markets immediately after harvesting at low prices but only to re-buy them at a higher cost during the lean season for consumption. (FASDEP II, 2007).

The nutritional status of most farm households in the Northern region is generally low, particularly for pregnant women, breast feeding mothers and young children and the old aged people as a result of low yields and high postharvest losses in relation to balancing their diet (Hoeschle-Zeledon, 2013). The situation is worst during the lean season when there is scarcity of food. Profit margins are also low as crop population densities are not met coupled with over reliance on sole cropping which predispose farmers to investment losses. Based on the existing production challenges, it is most appropriate to redefine and design cropping technologies that are required to combat low yields and postharvest quality problems using intercropping innovation.

Food security is a treat in the African environment. According to GRACE Communications Foundation (2014), food security is described as the existence of good quality food which meets the needs of all people at all the times for a better life. The food must necessary be available, accessible and able to be utilised. Agriculture therefore forms the bases for tackling and meeting households‟ food security needs. In Northern Ghana, the majority of households (88%) solely depends on crop cultivation as their main livelihood activity and about 95% of the households harvest one or more crops annually (WFP, 2012 and FASDEP II, 2007).

In the Northern region, the most widely cultivated crop is maize which is commonly consumed. The staple food in Northern Ghana is the Tuozaafi (TZ) commonly eaten with vegetable sauce. Vegetables, particularly Roselle, have multipurpose uses which includes its medicinal importance. Yields of vegetables, cereals and legumes are however low and post-harvest losses are high making households prone to severe hunger and starvation. It is particularly difficult to store fresh vegetables for use during the dry and lean seasons when hunger is severe. The nutritional contents of dry vegetables remains uncertain as postharvest handling have a role to play (Hoeschle-Zeledon, 2013).

As yields of crops are low and nutritional demands of families are threatened, farmers have over the years adopted copying strategies during the lean season. Some household members migrate to southern Ghana in search of jobs („‟Kayayo‟‟). They also migrate to solicit support from relatives and friends outside the regions. Food insecurity can result in the sale of livestock and other valuable assets. This can also lead to reduction in the quantity of food intake (Quaye, 2008). Overcoming malnutrition requires a combination of interventions in different areas that guarantee the availability of and access to quality food for growth and development (FAO, 2013). Economic growth is supported with innovations. Investing in research and development especially in agriculture is one sure way that will speed up economic growth (FAO, 2014).

Intercropping systems can therefore be used to avoid total losses of single cropping pattern in order to ensuring food security (Wolfswinkel, 2006). The intercropping systems have to be well studied to provide the best intercrop arrangements for optimal yield and good post harvest qualities (Babatunde, 2000).

It is therefore envisaged that maize and Roselle (kenaf) intercropping systems will give various intercropping options that will address yields, postharvest qualities and profitability thereby reducing hunger and malnutrition of rural poor in Northern Region.

The main objective of the study was to ascertain the effect of intercropping and cropping systems on postharvest quality of maize and Roselle.

1.4.1 Specific Objectives
      To determine the effects of different plant arrangement on agronomic performance of maize and Roselle inter-crops.
     To determine the effect of plant arrangement on the postharvest quality of maize and Roselle intercrop.
     To carry out cost-benefit  analysis  on various cropping systems.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Project Material  |  Attribute: 85 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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