Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, says the Government has implemented several interventions to assist vegetable farmers, including those in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region.
He cited the Ghana Peri-urban Vegetable Value Chain Project (GPVVCP) as one of the interventions implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to prioritize vegetable production.
The Minister, who was addressing Parliament, said the GPVVCP was funded by a grant of US$ 2.85 million from the Japan Social Development Fund drawn from a Trust Fund arrangement with the World Bank and ended in June 2020, covering four districts, including the South Tongu.
This, he said, was amply supported by the establishment of three greenhouse technology villages in Greater Accra (Dawhenya), Central (Bodwiase), and Ashanti (Akomadan).
The Minister revealed this on the floor of Parliament in response to a question by Mr Kobena Mensah Woyome, Member of Parliament for South Tongu, on steps the Ministry had taken to assist okro and other vegetable farmers in the South Tongu District in adding value through processing to maintain a stable market price and avoid post-harvest losses.
“Mr Speaker, the knowledge acquired from the project by the beneficiary farmers include; technical and managerial capacity in baseline, market survey, business analysis and improved record-keeping,” Dr Akoto said.
According to him, farmers also benefited from training in soil and nutrient management, agrochemical safety, post-harvest management, and participatory scenario planning to mitigate the negative impact of climate change on production activities.
He further said that farmers in Hikpo had received training through the Ghana Green Label Certification Scheme to gain access to high-value markets and that the certified farmers were now linked to an exporter who had established a business relationship with them.
Aside from the assistance, he stated that farmers continued to benefit from subsidized fertiliser and improved seeds provided by the South Tongu District Department of Agriculture through the Planting for Food and Jobs Campaign and related programmes.
He said the Ministry was well-informed about vegetable farmer activities in the South Tongu District by monitoring reports on extension services provided to farmers by the Department of Agriculture in the District.
The South Tongu District is well known for its vegetable production, particularly Okro, however, high and persistent post-harvest losses have been a major setback to the efforts of the local hardworking farmers.
Research shows that inadequate knowledge of value addition practices to secure farmer income has exacerbated the situation.
However, studies, according to the minister, confirm that value addition is the panacea to the problem of post-harvest losses and should be encouraged, particularly for high perishable agricultural products like vegetables.