The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is taking steps to address the perennial challenges facing farmers, transporters and other stakeholders in the tomato value chain, a deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in charge of Horticulture, George Boahen Oduro, has said.
The Agric Ministry, according to Mr. Oduro, is working strenuous to devise measures aimed at solving the nagging issues that confront dealers of the produce in the country.
This follows the successful intervention by the Ministry in the wake of recent agitation by some local tomato producers about low patronage of their produce.
Some tomato farmers in the Brong Ahafo region last week expressed anger and frustration about the lack of market for their produce, accusing traders and transporters of patronising produce from neighbouring Burkina Faso at their expense.
The farmers threatened to stage a nationwide demonstration, including mounting a blockage on the main Ghana-Burkina Highway at Techiman to halt the movement of trucks and their occupants involved in the trade.
But after a swift intervention from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, a tacit agreement has been reached between the various stakeholders. In the interim, the tomato traders and transporters have agreed to offtake produce from the local farmers while measures are put in place to address the persistent challenges facing the industry.
A joint team from MoFA led by the Deputy Minister and members of the association visited areas such as Tuobodom, Derma and also interacted with farmers’ representatives from Bechem, Techimantia, Akomadan, Afrancho, Techiman and others.
The minister said government is committed to addressing all challenges confronting the country’s tomato industry.
He also noted the climatic conditions in Ghana are highly favourable to the production of tomato compared with Burkina Faso, while stressing that it is unacceptable to continue depending on other countries for supply of the produce.
Apart from losing millions in revenues to our neighbours, women risk their lives travelling across the borders – exposing themselves to various dangers such as robbery attacks and vehicular accidents. This, he said, should not be allowed to persist.
He therefore promised that everything will be done to stop importation of the produce through the enhancement of local production.
In the immediate and long-term, some of the issues expected to be tackled will include the quality of varieties, packaging, marketing strategies, pricing and processing.
Others include provision of reliable irrigation supply for dry-season farming, training local farmers in the use of modern methods of farming, as well as the establishment of storage facilities to improve shelve-life of the produce.
The Deputy Minister said comprehensive plans are already in place under government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs programme to resolve these perennial challenges.
He indicated, for example, that under the PFJ an improved variety of the produce with a longer shelve-life is being provided to farmers at subsidised prices while measures are already in place to construct solar-powered mini-dams for dry-season farming.
Additionally, he pointed out that some of the districts have secured approval under government’s One District, One Factory to construct tomato processing plants that add value to the produce, and therefore assured the farmers of better prospects for the tomato industry.
The National President of the Tomato Traders and Transporters Association, Mr. Osei Tuffuor, commended the ministry for the response, adding that his association will continue to liaise with local producers so as to ensure the sector’s development.