Business News of 2014-01-18

Stop importing tomatoes - Farmers appeal to gov’t

Tomato farmers at Akomadan in the Offinso North District have appealed to the government to prevent the importation of tomatoes from Burkina Faso.

That, they said, would ensure that Ghanaian tomato farmers got ready markets for their produce all year round and also save them from incurring losses.

According to them, when tomatoes were in season in Burkina Faso, the market women hardly patronised their produce as they preferred buying from the neighbouring country.

The farmers, however, admitted that the Burkina Faso tomatoes were of higher quality and lower water content which made it less perishable.

Protection from Government

That notwithstanding, they believed that if they enjoyed some protection from the Ghanaian government, they could also grow their business and improve on their varieties to match that of Burkina Faso.

The Secretary to the Akomadan Tomato Farmers Co-operative, Kingsford Baffoe, told the Daily Graphic that aside the non-guaranteed price for their produce and the cost of fertiliser and other chemicals used for the cultivation of the crop, they were also faced with the high cost of electricity, particularly those of them farming at the irrigation dam site.

Increase in Utility Tariffs

According to him, because of the increase in utility tariffs, members of the co-operative now paid GH¢700 instead of GH¢400 to cultivate an acre of land for three months, by which time they would have harvested their produce.

The amount includes the use of the land, water from the dam and the maintenance fee for the dam.

Mr Baffoe, who has been farming for the past 20 years, said the business was lucrative and could get better if the government could stop the importation of tomatoes from Burkina Faso.

He said even though the government had helped with the provision of the dam to help them cultivate the produce even during the dry season, “the Ouaga (Burkina Faso) issue is really worrying us.”

“Although we are in the dry season in which tomato is a bit scarce, some of the farmers still have some of the produce but there are no buyers and these days, they don’t stop here. They bypass us to Ouaga to go bring tomatoes when we have some here,” he lamented.

Breaking Even

He said even though the market women paid very little for their produce, particularly when there was a glut, most of them managed to break even and remain in business, and believed that if they could be assured of ready markets all year round, “it will be good for our business.”

Currently, he said, a box of tomato is being sold between GH¢15 and GH¢20 “but this could go as high as GH¢200 during the lean season.”

Another issue hampering their business is the deplorable state of roads to their farms which prevents traders from coming to their farms, especially during the rainy season.

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