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Tomato farmers threaten to quit


2010-04-16 20:03:09
This article has been read 816 times.

Tomato farmers in the Upper East Region have threatened to stop cropping tomato during the next farming season if they are not assured of a guaranteed market and access to improved agricultural extension services.

They claimed that their annual call on the government over the past decade to complement their efforts by creating an ­enabling environment had yielded few results.


They indicated that most farmers did not harvest tomatoes from their farms because the plants did not bear fruits as a of pest attacks, even though the farmers applied the necessary practices and technology taught them by extension officers of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA)

A communique issued at a one-day consultative forum on the tomato industry organised by Trade Aid Integrated and sponsored by the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition in Bolgatanga said the situation made it exceedingly difficult for most of the farmers to pay their debtors.

It said they were therefore, afraid that they would be arrested and imprisoned for defaulting in the payment of loans.

The President of the Tono Irrigation Cooperative Farmers Union in Navrongo, Mr. Ahmed Bogobiri, who read the communique, said there was food insecurity, as most of the farmers relied on proceeds from their tomato farms to buy food, pay their children’s school fees and health insurance premiums

"There is fear that most farmers may not go into tomato farming next farming season if the problem is not identified and solved," he said.

He said the farmers were, therefore, calling on the government to deploy technical men from MOFA to find out the causes of the problem and provide possible solutions.

Additionally, they called on the government to support the affected farmers with food and also institute credit facilities for them.

Mr Bogobiri said the government should promote the drip, farming method, provide improved seeds and support farmers with machines and inputs for them to improve on the operations of the Northern Star Tomato Company (NSTC).

He also called on the government to increase the number of extension service staff in order to increase the farmer/ extension service official ratio, currently at one extension officer to 500 farmers.

He said tomato farming was a business that contributed to improved livelihoods, employment generation and increased incomes.

He said in 2007, tomato production across the country contributed about 1.4 per cent to national GDP and about four per cent of agricultural GDP, in spite of serious challenges which resulted in low yields, high post harvest losses, limited market and threat of pest and diseases.

Mr Bogobiri commended the government for ensuring that the NSTC purchased tomatoes this year, even though the company started late.

source: ghanadistricts.com

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