Tomato farmers at Pigbengben in the Wa West District have called on government to consider establishing a tomato processing factory in Upper West under the One-District-One-Factory scheme to provide ready market for producers.
A processing factory for local farmers would help add value to tomato produce and attract a ready market for growers who would then be able to pay back cost of inputs supplied to them during the cultivation period.
A tomato is a nutrient-dense superfood that offers benefit to a range of bodily systems. Its nutritional content supports healthful skin, weight loss, and heart health.
Despite its popularity and dietary importance in Ghanaian household food preparations, local farmers in Pigbengben have expressed their frustrations about low prices quoted by wholesale traders due to lack of market and a processing factory.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency, Mr Mohammed Dapillah, tomato grower, said a basin of tomatoes was being quoted between GHC 8.00 and GHC 10.00 in the Wa Central Market but even that “there are no buyers and many produce are wasted”.
In situations where the farmers are lucky, he said, buyers are called from the southern sector of the country who give appreciable prices of between GHC 15.00 and GHC 20.00 per bowl.
“The market for tomatoes is not good, so if the government can bring a tomato factory here, it will help us a lot. Sometimes you will send the produce to the market in abundance and not be able to sell them”.
Mr Dapillah expressed appreciation to government for introducing the subsidised fertilizer policy but added that “We farm a lot of tomatoes, pepper and maize, but they hardly reach the market”.
Another farmer, Madam Alhassan Mariama, said investing in tomato farming starts from the nursing to harvesting and transporting to the output to market but at the end “we do not get good market for the produce”.
She said the cost of transporting the tomatoes to the market could cost GHC 4.00 per basin and the full basin sold between GHC 8.00 and GHC 10.00.
“Tomatoes market is not good, right now we are harvesting to send to the market, we will sell it at maybe, GHC 10.00 and pay the driver GHC 4.00, how can you recover your monies and make profit,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mr Emmanuel Wullingdool, Policy Officer for the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition (GTLC), told the GNA in a separate interview that the quantity of tomatoes produced in the country fell below the quantity needed to feed a factory.
He called for the establishment of storage facilities to help farmers store their tomatoes and be able to sell at the appropriate time to avoid glut in the markets as well as post-harvest losses.