Mango and Citrus farmers appeal for Government to save the sector

By
Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA

Accra, Jan. 25, GNA –
Mango farmers in the country have called for government’s intervention to help
deal with the Black Bacteria Disease (BBS) that has been plaguing the sector to
save it from collapsing.

Mr Godfred Alimo,
Secretary, Blue Skies Mango Collectives, a Fair Trade group, said there was the
need for a holistic approach in dealing with the disease just like “the state
treated the Black Spot disease” that plagued the Cocoa sector some years ago.


“This needs a
national approach through mass spraying or an introduction of a bactericides
that can take care of the disease.

“Other than that the
mango industry will totally collapse”, Mr Alimo said in an interview with the
Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the Annual General Meeting of the Fair
Trade Ghana Network held in Accra.

Mr Alimo said just
after members of the Network had worked so hard to defeat the fruit flies that
used to devastate mango production years ago, the farmers were now battling
with the BBS in all mango producing countries nationwide.  

He said the BBS, an
airborne disease, had within the past four years, continued to spread from farm
to farm and “it’s very serious and devastating for mango farmers in the
country”.

He said the disease
had become widespread nationwide affecting most farmers and reducing yields.

“For instance in my
farm I have 100 acres, which produce 200 tonnes of mangoes per annum but
because of the disease, I now produce 50 tonnes of mangoes per annum”.

Mr Alimo explained
that the association had already alerted the Ministry of Food and Agriculture
over the situation and were waiting eagerly for the Government’s intervention
to save the situation.

He said market
accessibility was still a problem for mango and citrus producers since there
were only a couple of companies especially, the “Blue skies” company that buy
such fruits in larger quantities and a few other local industries.

He said there was
also the need for more processing plants that could support in reducing
postharvest losses by adding value to the mangoes.

Mr Johannes
Koumedjro, President of Fair Trade Ghana Network, said the challenges of
members made it important to always stick together to champion their cause,
especially for the citrus farmers.


Many of the members
of the Network, especially those into citrus production, were said to be facing
challenges with fruits diseases and marketing.

Others, including
mango producers also face similar challenges which seemed to kill the interest
of farmers who engage in fruits production.

Mr Koumedjro said
the Network was working hard to encourage its members to do value addition to
transform their produce into easily marketable products.

“We are exploring
further ways that we can help them solve their problems”, he said.

He said some of the
individual farmers and producers were also linking up with the Government’s One
District One factory programme to explore opportunities there.

He therefore,
expressed optimism that the year 2020 would be better for the members as they
plan to roll out the Network’s new two year strategic plan that would help
members “to move forward”.    

Mr Abubarkar
Benjamin Afful, Global team leader for cocoa in Ghana and Coordinator,
Fairtrade Africa Region, expressed the organization’s resolve to push for
better opportunities that would inure to the benefit of all its members.


He explained that
for a producer to meet a fair trade international standards, producers needed
to produce in an ethical way under sustainable and good environmental
condition.

Here, we look at
where farmers or producers who produce without using child labour or doing
things that will negatively affect others in the community during the course of
production, having a good leadership system in place to ensure that whatever
benefits that would be accrued will go to benefit all the workers, he said.

Meanwhile, the AGM
enabled the Network to review and chart the way forward for its members, made
up  farmers and producers of Cocoa,
Cashew, Mangoes, Citrus, Banana and other artecrafts.

The Organisation,
partners FairTrade Africa under the Fair Trade International, to coordinate its
membership and seek both local and international buyers and market for them.

GNA