Business News of 2014-07-03

‘Leafy curls’ outbreak in Agotime-Ziope District

An epidemic of leafy curls disease has broken out on tomato farms in the Agotime-Ziope District in the Volta Region. More than 650 hectares of tomato farms belonging to 550 farmers have been affected by the disease.

The disease renders the tomato plants unproductive at the flowering stage as the plants wither and turn brown. During a tour of some of the affected farms, the Agotime –Ziope District Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Mr Noah Adomina, said the disease could be traced to a sporadic attack on farms some years back.

He recalled that some research scientists from the University of Ghana visited the area to understudy the disease and advised the farmers on how to contain its spread at the nursery stage. That, he said, would have prevented the agent from attacking the plant at the nursery stage and prolonged the manifestation stage (to come after the plant had produced).

Mr Adomina said the farmers ignored the advice and failed to cover the nurseries with the recommended materials, thus exposing the plant to the attack of the leafy curl. A physically challenged man, Mr Mawuvi Gbegla, who said he had invested GH¢6,000 in his six-hectare farm, disclosed that he was totally confused because he could not imagine where to raise funds to repay loans he took.

The Chairman of the Ziope Area Vegetables and Marketers Association, Mr Seth Negble, said the mass crop failure should be considered a national disaster for the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to extend some financial relief to the farmers to enable them to pay back loans from banks and savings and loans companies.

He said the cost of preparation of land, chemicals and fertilisers was becoming unbearable, and appealed to the government to review the price of fertilisers to reduce the debt burden on farmers.

Another farmer, Mrs Enyonam Azigbodzi, who said she had lost over four hectares of planted tomatoes, called for government’s intervention to cushion the farmers.

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