Madam Katja Lasseur, Deputy Head of Mission Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, says Ghana needs to increase productivity, storage, value addition and competitiveness of the fruit and vegetable sector.
She said the measures would help to address the production-consumption gap to enable the country to serve both the domestic and export markets.
Madam Lasseur, who was speaking at the HortiFresh Fruit and Vegetable Fair in Accra, said the Fair served as a perfect platform for creating linkages and sharing innovative ideas for the sector.
This year’s event organised in collaboration with the Chamber of Agribusiness was on the theme: “Theme “Enhancing horticulture Trade Patterns in Covid-19 Era.”
The Fruit and Vegetable Fair is an annual event that provides a platform for trade promotion within the horticulture sector. This helps create market opportunities for businesses and generate partnerships as well as sensitize the public about horticulture sector activities.
About 70 horticulture value chain actors such as input dealers, processors, producers, services providers, seed producers, agro-chemical dealers, farmers, buyers and government agencies.
The Fair also creates an avenue for sector-related discussions during seminars and meetings to bring sector actors together to deliberate on sector-related bottlenecks and ways of solving them.
The Deputy Head of Mission said, over the years, the horticulture sector in Ghana had seen an appreciable growth rate, saying the Netherlands government made an important contribution to the growth.
She said apart from export opportunities, a very promising part of the growth was the high-end segment of the domestic vegetable market, adding its overall turnover has doubled in only three years from US$5 million in 2014 to more than US$ 11 million in 2017.”
Mrs Sheila Assibey-Yeboah, Programme Manager, HortiFresh West Africa, said trade promotion was one of HortiFresh’s core activities.
She said the platform helped create market opportunities and visibility for these businesses and with the emergence of COVID-19, it had become increasingly important for the sector to continue such events to foster partnerships and sensitize the public about the activities of horticulture sector players.
She said the collaboration with the Chamber was also to drive the continuity of this annual programme after the closure of the HortiFresh programme.
She expressed the hope that the continuous engagements and interactions would go a long way to create inclusive and sustainable growth for the sector thereby making it competitive in the world market.
“In addition, to the Fair this year there are three seminars to be held concurrently to discuss salient issues affecting the horticulture sector. This will help develop a conducive business climate for SMEs who are active and adding value to their horticulture businesses,” she added.
Dr Courage Besah-Adanu, Technical Director of the Chamber, said over the years, the horticulture sector was a critical part of the agribusiness industry.
He said horticultural products accounted for about 38 per cent of the non-traditional agricultural export commodities, contributing over US$159.8million to the Ghanaian economy.
“Your role is more critical even now as we urgently need fruits and Vegetables to secure a stronger immunity against the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
He said, “Ghana celebrates you for feeding the ever-growing population, contributing to substantial revenue, especially foreign exchange to the national kitty while improving the health of the environment.”
Mr Seth Osei Akoto, Director Crop Services, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said fruits and vegetables were important components of a healthy diet and their sufficient daily consumption helped prevent major diseases, including cancers.
He said the Ministry was working to further improve the fruits and vegetable sector.
He said it was the goal of the government to support innovations in the industry and to put into place the incentives necessary to stimulate increased uptake of productivity.
It is also to enhance agriculture technologies and to create an equitable market environment that will encourage investment.