Ghana loses CFA 56 billion to Burkina Faso annually as a result of the importation of fresh tomatoes while a sizable chunk of the produce by farmers in the country get rotten because of lack of buyers.
This sorry state of the tomato industry was painted by the Chairman of the National Tomato Traders and Transporters Association (NTTTA), Mr Eric Osei Tuffuor, at a stakeholders meeting on the tomato industry at Tuobodom in the Techiman North District of the Brong Ahafo Region.
The meeting was attended by tomato farmers, traders, transporters and officials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), including the Deputy Minister, Mr George Oduro, in response to a request by the farmers to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo when he visited the town as part of his recent three-day working visit to the Brong Ahafo Region.
Burkina Faso tomatoes
Mr Tuffuor indicated that 90 per cent of fresh tomatoes produced in Burkina Faso was patronised by Ghanaian traders.
According to him, Ghana consumed fresh and canned tomato more than any country in Africa for which reason there was the need to put premium on the tomato industry.
He expressed worry about the poor packaging of fresh tomato by Ghanaian farmers and said such practices were part of the reasons traders patronised the product from Burkina Faso.
Supporting his claim with pictures, Mr Tuffuor said it was unfortunate that some farmers packed rotten and unripe tomatoes at the bottom of their containers.
“We want the right thing to be done so that we can spend our money here to help boost the economy,” he said.
He also called for the strengthening of farm-based organisations to enable them to control such negative practices by some of the farmers.
The Chairman of the Federation of Tomato Growers Association, Ghana, Mr Baffuor Afrifa, appealed to the government to slap an import duty on imported fresh tomato to compel traders to patronise locally grown tomatoes.
He also called for the establishment of factories in tomato growing areas to deal with the problem of glut.
For his part, the deputy minister announced that the MoFA would modernise the packaging of fresh tomatoes by using smaller plastic boxes to reduce the weight.
He also stated that small irrigation systems powered by solar energy would be constructed to enable farmers to farm all year round to prevent traders from importing the product, especially during the lean tomato season.
Mr Oduro said under the Nation Builders Corps programme, more extension officers would be employed to assist farmers.
He further called on farmers to buy improved seeds from the MoFA instead of using their own seeds.