Agona, Ashanti region
Research Scientists from the Crop Research Institute (CRI) are conducting studies to determine if the high-yielded fig tree at Wiamoase, in the Sekyere South District, can be cultivated in commercial quantities to boost the national economy.
This comes in the wake of the discovery of the fig species after residents perceived it to be an apple tree planted by 19-year-old Yaa Asantewaa, five years before she passed on.
Her parents say they continued to nurture the tree, which began to bear fruits about six months ago.
However, Dr. Beloved Mensah Dzomeku, Principal Plant Physiologist at CRI, at Fumesua, in the Ejisu Municipality, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that, the physiological features of the tree pointed to that of the fig family.
He said researchers would now conduct extensive studies to see whether or not it was of economic value and could be planted on a larger scale across the country.
The fruits of the tree, which suddenly became a tourist attraction over the weekend, following the mystery surrounding its planting, nurturing and growth in the Wiamoase community, has now become a subject of controversy.
The Community members, including the father of Yaa Asantewaa, believe that the vast number and sizes of fruits could become a source of good income to them should it thrive on commercial farms.
They, therefore, urged the Government and researchers to as a matter of urgency to conduct investigations on its viability.
This prompted the intervention of officials of the CRI and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, who went there to take samples of the fruits and examine the physiological properties of the tree.
Mr John Kwarteng, Sekyere-South District Director of Agriculture, told the GNA that, officials of MOFA and CRI had taken samples of the crop for further investigations.
He said when some of the fruits were cut open, they found some sticky substance, which was not a characteristic of an apple.
Mr Kwarteng said his outfit had, therefore, warned, the community members not to consume any part of the tree until the findings of their investigations were made public in the next two weeks.
The residents were overjoyed that the fruits resembled an apple, which, they knew did not thrive in Ghana’s tropical climate.
Meanwhile, figs are said to be high in natural sugars, minerals and soluble fibres. The mineral content includes potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper. They are also a good source of antioxidants, Vitamins A and K.
The fruits can exported both fresh and dried. They can also be processed into powder, jam, paste concentrates and nuggets, among others, and integrated into other foods.
The dried seeds in figs contain oil, said to be 30 per cent fatty acids. The oil can be used as a lubricant.
The natural humectants (retaining or preserving moisture) in figs make them a beneficial ingredient in health and beauty products, soaps, moisturisers, fragrances and candles.
According to the United States’ Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, the United States in 2017/2018, exported more than $15.5 million of fig, while it imported both fresh and dried fig valued at nearly $52.1 during the period.
Turkey is, however, the largest producer of fig, while India is the largest importer of the fruit.