It appears that inasmuch as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many economic activities and led to job losses, other sectors of the economy are making gains.
Ghana for instance imports a chunk of its fresh tomatoes from neighboring Burkina Faso, but the closure of borders coupled with low production, has shifted the focus to local tomato farmers at Tuobodom in the Techiman North District of the Bono East Region.
The local farmers have witnessed an exponential increase in demand by buyers who would have usually imported from Burkina Faso.
Ghana loses CFA56 billion, approximately $99.5 million to Burkina Faso through the importation of fresh tomatoes annually. Before the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana, and the subsequent closure of the country’s borders, Burkina Faso was the main destination for fresh tomato importers who neglected tomatoes produced in places like Tuobodom.
But following the continuous closure of the borders, women who travel to Burkina Faso for fresh tomatoes are now patronizing tomatoes from Tuobodom.
Tomato farmers in Tuobodom are happy about the situation, as a box of tomatoes which used to be sold at 20 cedis at the beginning of 2020, is now going for 700 cedis.
The Techiman North District Chief executive, Hon. Peter Mensah distributed over 20,000 branded cloth nose masks to be shared to the vulnerable in the district as part of the assembly’s efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
According Hon. peter Mensah, the free distribution of the mask was to ensure that traders from other regions entering for trading activities do not come up with excuses as the Techiman North District assembly begins the enforcement of the wearing of face masks in the country as directed by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffu Addo and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in line with section 14 of the Public Health Act, Act 851.
The DCE, Hon. Peter Mensah who spoke to newsmen after touring some markets in the district says its members are recording high sales because of the border closure adding that the farmers are happy as they can repay loans acquired to expand their farms.
Tomato production in Ghana is not any different from most parts of the world considering that tomato as a vegetable is used in almost every meal preparation globally.
According to Hon. Peter Mensah, the Nana Addo led NPP government created the enabling environment with the necessary incentives in place for researchers and farmers to boost the tomato farming industry.
Some of the tomato farmer who were with the DCE told Newsmen in an interview that, “They are now buying the tomatoes and market is good. We are calling on government to put in measures that would ensure that they buy from here than going to Burkina Faso.”
They explained that, “Formerly they used to go to Burkina Faso. But they are now buying from here, and it has helped the farmers. What Government can do is that they should ensure that they buy tomatoes from here, then when the season is over they can go to Burkina Faso.”
The Tomato importers are however calling for an improved variety to be produced by the local farmers to prevent wastage after harvest, as that will help to reduce the importation of the product from Burkina Faso.