Project title

Enhancing Bambara groundnut production, adoption, and utilization for food security and increased income among smallholder farmers in northern Ghana.

Grantee institution

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), a public scientific research institution in Tamale, Ghana.


Francis Kusi (PhD), Research Scientist and Director of CSIR-SARI.
Patrick Attamah (PhD), Breeder.
Alhassan Nuhu Jinbaani (MPhil), Agricultural Economist, Monitoring and Evaluation and Gender Specialist.
Michael Mawunya (MPhil), Weed Scientist.

Key Partners

Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Ghana, agricultural extension services. Seed Producers Association of Ghana, seed production. Heritage Seed Company LTD, seed production. Rural Agrihub and WhatIf Foods, purchasing and processing of Bambara groundnuts.
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Why We Exist


Northern Ghana is part of the Sahel, a semi-arid region with high levels of food insecurity and one of the most vulnerable parts of the world to the effects of climate change. According to the most recent World Food Programme report, 3.6 million Ghanaians suffer from food insecurity, with the prevalence ranging from 22.6 to 48.7% in the 5 northern regions. In these regions, approximately 80% of households farm the land and farmers and herders have the highest rates of food insecurity.

Bambara groundnuts are a type of bean used as cooked beans and processed into oil, flour, and milk. They’re a traditional crop in northern Ghana, mainly grown by women. The beans are highly nutritious, one of the highest value crops that can be grown in the region on a per kg basis, well adapted to drought conditions, and a legume that enhances soil fertility. WhatIf Foods, a startup in Singapore, is scaling up production of Bambara groundnut milk for the international market and sourcing its raw product from Ghana.

However, yields are low, in part because little scientific research has been done on the crop and no commercial varieties exist. Among the other challenges associated with the crop are the length of the growing season and the time it takes the beans to cook. Production has increased in recent years but remains low relative to non-native crops such as maize.


The project will work closely with women farmers and other stakeholders to understand the agronomy and economics of Bambara groundnut production, particularly which traits are most desired, and breed the first commercial variety accordingly. It will develop innovation platforms that link research and development with agricultural extension (e.g., through on-farm trials). It will also conduct trials to develop recommended management practices (especially plant spacing, fertilizer, and weed control) and work with the private sector to develop seed production systems and markets for farmers’ produce.


The project aims to develop the first variety of Bambara groundnut in 3 years and release it commercially in the 4th year. Using the Australian ADOPT model, the team projects that 1.6 million farms will adopt improved Bambara groundnuts within 5 years of release and 6.4 million within 20 years, which would represent a similar adoption rate to what the institute achieved with rice. Those who adopt should see improved income and better nutrition, particularly for women and infants, even in the face of climate change.

Current status

CSIR-SARI has successfully done similar research on other crops, but there’s very little funding from either domestic or international sources for Bambara groundnut research. At present, CSIR-SARI is doing pre-breeding activities such as identifying sources of seed to use in breeding and growing them out to determine which may be duplicates.

Role of Grow Further

Grow Further will provide a grant of approximately $133,000 over 3 years to cover all research and development costs associated with the project. Agricultural extension and commercialization costs will primarily be borne by the Ministry of Agriculture and the private sector, respectively. Grow Further will also provide capacity building, particularly around monitoring and evaluation and marketing and communications. In the event that the results of the project are widely adopted, Grow Further will arrange a rigorous independent evaluation to determine whether it successfully improved nutrition, farm income, and other socioeconomic variables.

Our long-term plan is to form a network of chapters or imitators so that farmers and scientists have lots of choices when it comes to testing small or unconventional ideas, and so that people who don’t work at a grant-making agency have a meaningful way to get involved.