Business News of Sunday, 1 March 2015
Source: Graphic Online
Tomato farmers in the Upper East Region have abandoned the cultivation of dry season tomatoes due to lack of guaranteed market.
The farmers now cultivate chilli pepper, onions, okro, green peper, garden eggs and other green leafy vegetables which they claim have ready market and are more profitable than tomatoes.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic at their farm gates, some members of the Akuniwoe Tomato Farmers Group said until 2015, they were involved in the cultivation of dry season tomato.
Lack of market
They said their major headache was getting guaranteed market for their produce as market queens from the southern part of the country bypassed them to Burkina Faso to purchase tomatoes.
According to the farmers, the excuse given by the traders was that the tomatoes from the Upper East were watery and easily perishable.
They said not until a deliberate policy was put in place to ensure guaranteed market for tomato farmers in the region, its cultivation would gradually die off.
Revive tomato factory
They called on government to revive the Northern Star Tomato Factory to save the industry in the region.
The Secretary of the Vea Tomato Farmers Association, Mr Justice Ayine Atombisco, said a tomato shortage in the region and the rest of the country this year was unavoidable.
He said the Upper East Region had been providing the bulk of tomatoes for the market for the past years, but problems in its cultivation were making a lot of them give up its cultivation.
Mr Atombisco recounted that a farmer at Kandiga in the Kassena Nankana West District who sold his cattle and invested in tomato farming last year was said to have committed suicide when his investment went bad due to lack of market; a situation which made it difficult to take care of his family.
He said high prices of farming inputs coupled with poor rainfall last year was another major challenge, indicating that most of them were now resorting to dugout wells to irrigate their fields; a move which came with additional cost.
He appealed to the government to reintroduce the fertiliser subsidy as farmers were now purchasing a bag of fertiliser for GH¢130.
Communities where dry season cultivation of tomatoes is predominant in the Upper East Region are Vea, Nyariga,Yorogo, Zaare, Sumbrungu, Yekene, Zokko, Kulaa, Bongo, Bongoe-soe, Kandiga, Doba, Akuniwoe and Agrumaluko.