In a drive to scale up agriculture exports, Director of Port -Tema, Sandra Opoku, is proposing more support for farmers, especially small holder ones with export potential to produce more for the export market.
In 2019, the Port of Tema alone recorded a total exports figure of 2.5 million metric tonnes, an increase of 19 percent compared to same period in 2018 which had a total cargo traffic of 2.3 million metric tonnes; whilst imports increased from 12.9 million metric tonnes in 2018 to 13.4 million metric tonnes in 2019.
Export figures for 2020 half year (Jan-June) show a marginal decrease of 1.4 percent from 1,454,755 metric tonnes in 2019 to 1,434,223 in 2020 same period. Imports however, rose by 10 percent from 6,344.081 metric tonnes in 2019 to 6,987.824c in 2020.
Container traffic from January to June 2020 was 508,749 twenty equivalent units (TEU’s) a 12.1 percent increase from same period in 2019 which was 453,826 TEU’s. With imports growing at a higher rate than exports, Mrs. Opoku said, it explains the need for the country to focus on introducing new crops that are attractive for export to the international market.
According to her, there is the need for cooperation between farmers and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) and the Ghana Export and Import Bank (EXIM bank) particularly in the rural areas by establishing offices at the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to help bridge the connectivity gap.
This, she said, will ensure that farmers get access to relevant information, identify potential items to export, get access to markets, establish clearer quality standards to help drive exports, help farmers focus on producing more from year to year, and reducing the widening trade imbalance and boosting the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
“The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Ghana Export and Import Bank (EXIM bank) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture are doing well in facilitating export trade, but I think there is a little bit of disconnection between the farmers especially those in the rural areas.
I think now they should get down to where the farmers are, and then those who are interested should be encouraged, because we have the farmers and the produce but the issue is who to buy it,” she said in an interview with the B&FT.
She added: “GEPA should ensure they attach connectivity for small holder farmers by having offices or a desk at the various MMDAs to link up with the farmers so that they bring it down, because some of them are willing to do export but do not know where to go.
If I know that in my district office, when I have something to sell, I walk there and let somebody come and have a look at my produce and then assess it and link me up to a market, I think it will help to bridge that gap,” she said.
She further encouraged local producers to take value addition seriously as that will enhance their chances of getting their products to the outside market.
Sandra Opoku, Director of Port -Tema