Tomato farmers at Tuobodom in the Techiman North in the Brong Ahafo Region are distressed for the lack of market for their produce, following a glut that has caused prices to fall drastically with some threatening to commit suicide. The District Chief Executive for the area has threatened to block the Highways leading to the Burkina Faso aimed at preventing importation of tomatoes.
The farmers are therefore appealing 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.
To worsen the plight of the peasant farmers, most of them could not repay the loans they accessed from financial institutions. The farmers complained that if there was no improvement in the market situation, several metric tonnes of their produce would go to waste.
The farmers made the appeal when they conducted newsmen round their farmlands to get first-hand information on their plight. The visit revealed large quantities of ripe tomatoes left unplugged, with some on the verge of getting rotten. The precarious natures of the situation, with some of the disillusioned farmers have no immediate solution to the marketing problem.
Mr. Baffour Afrifa Chairman of the Federation of Tomatoes Growers Association Ghana speaking to OTECNEWS said situation has affected the market prices of tomatoes leaving majority of the farmers in a state of anxiety.
He highlighted the need for buyers to approach them for their produce since they can't be here with the products themselves in their quest to get rid of the products outlining that, each buyer has its loyal customer hence gluts.
“I borrowed GH¢1000 with 25 per cent interest, which I was supposed to have started paying about four months ago, but because of the superfluity, I have not been able to raise even GH¢10 to start with the payment,” one of the farmers, told OTECNEWS.
They said prices of farming inputs and other charges had been at the high side, making it difficult for them to pay back their loans.
Meanwhile, the District Chief Executive for Techiman North Hon Peter Mensah revealed that between 50 to 60 heavy duty truck loads of tomato is imported daily from Burkina Faso into Ghana passes through the town and threatened to block the road to avert the situation.
According to Hon Peter Mensah there is no tomato season that passes without some farmers committing suicide as a result of frustration. As a matter of fact it has become an annual ritual.
So far, it is alleged that two farmers have committed suicide this year even before the harvesting season reaches its peak. One wonders how many tomato farmers would commit suicide during the peak period if they failed to get market for their produce. Something needs to be done to reverse the trend immediately.