Banana export from Ghana has grown from about 3,000 tonnes per year in 2007 to over 70,000 tonnes in 2017, positioning the commodity as second to cocoa and oil palm in the agricultural produce export.
Banana remains the single most important non-traditional export crop and employment generator, engaging over 5,000 direct employees in the Lower Volta Region of the country.
Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in Charge of Horticulture, George Oduro, speaking at the inauguration of Banana Producers Association of Ghana at Kasunya, Asutuare, in the Greater-Accra Regioncongratulated banana producers for their rapid evolution and growth of the industry, and putting the country on the international market through their massive scale of production and exports of the fruits.
He indicated that success of the industry through hard work and perseverance has clearly inspired new investors such as Golden Exotics and Musahmahat.
“I am reliably informed that 20 percent of the country’s banana exports go to fellow West African countries of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger and Benin. This is significant, given that the achievements give great impetus to the efforts and objective of promoting regional trade in line with the goals of ECOWAS,” he said.
Production and export of banana from Ghana was started by Volta River Estates in 1994. The industry was faced with huge challenges under the EU country-specific quota agreement – the tariff regime for banana exports from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries into the EU – making it unattractive for newcomers to venture into the industry until some significant changes took place in the EU Banana Tariff Regime in 2005.
With establishment of the two major banana plantations Golden Exotic Limited and Musahmahat Farms Limited in 2014, banana exports from the country have grown significantly.
Managing Director of Golden Exotic Limited, Mr. Benedict Rich, explained that “our industry really has the capacity to make a major impact on the Ghanaian economy, but to do that we have to scale-up to the level of our neighbors in Cameroun and Ivory Coast who are producing and exporting four and five times our total volumes of about 70,000 tonnes.
“In Ghana, banana producers have always cooperated at all levels; but the threats we face on the international market requires that we do better than that. Besides, we face constantly changing legislation which sometimes negatively impacts our business in our main market of Europe.”
Government, according to Mr. Rich, has been supportive of the fruit exports industry – with policies and programmes such as the Ghana Free Zones Act and the provision of the Export Fruit Terminal at Shed 9 Tema Harbour; but more needs to be done to realise the enormous potential of the horticultural industry.