Effect of Farmer Seed Management practices on the Quality of Maize (Zea mays L.) and Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. (Walp)) Seeds from Five Ecological Zones of Ghana

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June, 2010
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A field research to assess seed management practices of farmers and quality of seed maize and cowpea used by farmers in crop cultivation in the five ecological zones of Ghana was conducted from September 2009 to January 2010. All the five ecological zones of Ghana were sampled for seed maize while four ecological zones were sampled for cowpea seeds. A total of 90 maize and 29 cowpea seed samples were collected for the study. Formal questionnaires were administered to 119 farmer respondents concerning their seed management practices. The use of farmer-saved seed maize and cowpea seed in Ghana was predominantly common across all the five ecological zones of Ghana sampled with a minimum of 23% in the Coastal Savannah zone and a maximum of 67% in the Transition zone. Their method of seed storage was found to be 60% of farmers using store rooms and only 10% stored their seed in the cold room across all the agro-ecological zones. However, 60% of the farmers across the agro-ecological zone treated their seeds with insecticide before storage with 83% in the Transition zone, and 80% of the farmer across the agro-ecological stored their seed for a maximum duration of six month. With the method of seed processing 100% and 51% of the farmers across the agro-ecological zones used manual method for cowpea and maize respectively. The use shelling machine for maize was 83% in the Transition zone the highest among the five agro-ecological zones. Seed purity percentages were extremely high across all the five ecological zones of Ghana with a minimum of 96.6% in the Coastal Savannah zone and a maximum of 99.4% in the Forest zone. The widespread incidence of Fusarium monoliforme (37.1-49.4%), Botryodiplodia theobromae (1.8-10.3%), Acremonium strictum (0.6-5.6%), Fusarium pallidoroseum (0.03-0.07%) and Bipolaris maydis (0.06-0.14%) were encountered in maize samples across all the ecological zones of Ghana. The seed health test of cowpea sampled in four ecological zones also revealed the presence of four major seed-borne fungi namely Fusarium oxysporum, (14.3-49.7%), Fusarium pallidoroseum (4.5%), Macrophomina phaseolina (0.6%) and Colletotrichum lindemuthianum (0.06%). The Forest zone recorded all the five seed-borne fungal pathogens isolated in the seed health analysis of seed maize samples. Fusarium monoliforme, Botryodiplodia theobromae and Acremonium strictum were detected in the maize samples from all the five ecological zones of Ghana. Fusarium oxysporum was also identified in cowpea samples from all the four ecological zones of Ghana
A thesis Submitted to the School of Post Graduate Studies in Partial Fulfilment of the Msc. Seed Science and Technology at the Department of Horticulture of the Faculty of Agriculture, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.