Pineapple producers seek GH¢60m bailout
Pineapple producers in the country have requested for a GH¢60 million bailout from the government to be able to sustain their operations and the industry in general.
The funding will also help them to raise production figures to 100,000 tonnes per annum from the current 30,000 tonnes, the Vice President of the Sea-Freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG), Mr Kwabena Afari, has said.
“We need some serious financial assistance from the government; if we don’t get it soon, the pineapple industry is going to collapse,” he told the Daily Graphic at the Izmir International Fair currently underway at Turkey.
The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), an agency under the Ministry Trade and Industry, is sponsoring about 12 local companies, including members of SPEG, pharmaceutical manufacturers, food and beverage and the cosmetics companies, to exhibit their wares at the fair.
Already, production figures of the crop have declined from some 70,000 metric tonnes per annum about seven years ago to 30,000 tonnes in 2012. Mr Afari said any further delay in financial aid to the producers could have rippling effects on the entire industry.
“The industry was employing about 10,000 people but that has dropped to about 3,000,” he added.
SPEG, the umbrella body of pineapple exporters in the country, has already submitted a proposal for financial assistance to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI), and Mr Afari was hopeful that the ministry would come to their aid soon.
The Chief Executive Officer of the GEPA, Mr Gideon Quarcoo, who is also at the fair, said his outfit was not aware of the proposal.
On the state of the pineapple industry, SPEG’s Vice President said rising cost of production, resulting from the shift in global demand for the Smooth Cayenne pineapple to MD2, had impacted negatively on local producers, as they had to adapt to the production of the new variety.
However, the swift shift in demand meant that local producers would have to lose some markets in the short term due to their inability to quickly produce and supply the required variety.
That resulted in financial difficulties to the pineapple growers, Mr Afari, who is also the Managing Director of Greenspan Farms at Aburi in the Eastern Region said.
“Most of the producers have collapsed due to indebtedness to the banks. We had over 40 active members but that has now reduced to 11 members,” he said.
By Maxwell Adombila Akalaare, IZMIR, TURKEY/Daily Graphic/Ghana