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Business News Thu, 11 Jun 2015

Farmers demand high-yielding crops

Vegetable farmers and processors in the Northern Region have appealed to the various crop research institutes in the country to develop quality and high yielding vegetable seed varieties to enable them produce to meet the taste of the world market.

According to the farmers, the weather conditions in northern Ghana are conducive for vegetable production but several constraints including logistical and farm inputs are hampering the activities of farmers and processors from producing to meet requirement of the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) and the Food and Drug Authority for sale on the world market.

Additionally, the farmers contend limited post-harvest technologies and storage facilities have increased losses along the agriculture value chain.

Some processors also appealed to the GSA and FDA to remove the bottlenecks and bureaucracies associated with certification of their produce for the export market, which they argue impact negatively on their businesses.

This came to light at the maiden business forum organised by GhanaVeg in Tamale aimed at assisting front-runner companies to be able to keep up with some of the barriers in the vegetable sector. The forum was held on the theme “Healthy and quality vegetables through new ways of doing business”.

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GhanaVeg is an initiative of The Embassy of the Netherlands as part of its 4-year multi-annual strategic plan (2014-2017) to prioritise commercial agriculture and to also stablish a sustainable and internationally competitive vegetable sector that contributes to inclusive economic growth.

The meeting brought together key players in the vegetable sector including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, farmer groups, financial Institutions, input supply dealers, agrochemical dealers, seed companies, researchers from University of Development Studies among others to interact for effective and efficient synergies and market opportunities and development, as well as mitigating the challenges confronting the sector in the Northern Region.

The farmers commended GhanaVeg for the initiative in helpingto produce healthy and quality vegetables with market linkages to the farmers and the processors to improve the livelihoods of rural dwellers.

The Senior Business Advisor/ Deputy Programmes Leader of GhanaVeg, Sheila Assibey-Yeboah, urged vegetable farmers in the northern sector to invest and manage resources efficiently to improve vegetable farming.

She said: “The vegetable sector needs to be developed in such a way that it becomes innovative, competitive and efficient to meet the export market, and also boost the confidence of Ghanaian society to increase consumption of vegetable crops in Ghana’’.

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She further urged farmer groups to apply for financial assistance under its matching grant initiative, which makes available €50,000 to support farmers.

Agronomist and Vegetable Research Coordinator of Wienco Ghana Ltd., Fouad Lakhal -- who made a presentation on “Bridging the Vegetable Seed Gap for Sustainable Agricultural Development in Ghana” -- explained that the use of non-certified seeds accounts for low yields.

He advised farmers to avoid using saved seeds and purchase hybrid seeds which are more profitable. According to the agronomist, most of the seeds expired when kept for a longer period and therefore does not make good yields.

Ms Patricia Asamoah, Communication specialist GhanaVeg Programme, said the programme is held annually to educate farmers on the best agriculture practice that will help produce more.

She said GhanaVeg was established to help improve productivity in the vegetable sector, facilitating more efficient markets as well as linking the vegetable producers and value chain operators to the international market.

Source: B&FT