Pineapple cultivation was once a burgeoning enterprise in the country, employing hundreds of thousands of people and putting Ghana on the global horticulture stage – while raking in some good foreign exchange for the economy.
However, the country’s once-enviable share of the pineapple export market reckoned at 10 percent has declined over a decade to just a paltry 3 percent. This development has put some 500,000 pineapple producers and exporters out of work.
A report published by the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) – the Ghana Business Development Review report 2018 – notes that in 2004 the country had a 10 percent share of the pineapple export market, and ten years on it has declined to 3 percent.
In 2004 the country boasted 51 exporters of pineapple; today only seven are left, and this demonstrates the decline in the product’s fortunes. According to the General Manager (GM) of Sea-Freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG), Mr. Stephen Mintah, the deficit in the pineapple industry that is presently averaging around 40 percent is due to the non-availability of financial support for cultivation, high fertiliser cost, and low-quality inputs – especially pineapple suckers, due to the change in global demand from smooth cayenne to MD2.
In fact, ever since the switch to MD2 from the smooth cayenne that was mostly cultivated during the peak period of the 1990s, Ghana has not found its feet in the pineapple trade – and that is sad, considering that we are an agro-based economy that should have a comparative advantage in pineapple cultivation.
The UGBS report however ascribes climatic challenges, land acquisition problems and the high cost of inputs as some of the factors. Generally, pineapple cultivation does not need too much precipitation to survive. Another setback is the proliferation of real estate companies that is acquiring most of the arable land for housing estates.
However, with every drawback an opportunity arises; and since the export market favours the MD2 variety, local producers can still produce the smooth cayenne so that under the in-coming 1D1F programme the raw material can be used to serve juice factories which will be set up in places like Ekumfi.
Additionally, financial institutions like the Exim Export Bank should come to the aid of pineapple producers who target the export market, so that the bottlenecks they face can be addressed by the bank since it exists primarily for exporters.
We find it quite unfortunate that we have lost the niche we once had as a pineapple producer, and all must be done to revive the sub-sector’s fortunes.