High exit taxes imposed by Municipal and District Assemblies in the Upper East Region is having an adverse effect on Onion and Watermelon farmers in the Region.
Onion and Watermelon are predominantly produced by farmers from Bawku Municipality, Binduri, Bawku West and Garu-Tempani Districts.
The high exit tax imposed on the traders are scaring away potential traders who prefer travelling to neigbouring countries such as Burkina Faso and Togo since taxes there are comparatively lower.
The Binduri Water users Association who are mainly vegetable producers disclosed these at a Press Conference organised by the Association with support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) fund.
A member of the Association, Mr Philip Ayamba said the traders, who dictate the prices usually offered low prices with the excuse that the taxes were too high and would eventually raise the cost of the vegetables, they also overload the bags with the produce thus making the farmer feel the full brunt of the high tax.
A research commissioned by the Water Users Association revealed that one of the major causes of the problem was that the assemblies did not involve the farmers in their fee fixing resolutions.
The research further revealed that the farmers were not against the tax being imposed by the Assemblies but rather the non-involvement of the farmers in the fee fixing which they claimed was the cause of the problem.
Data from the field revealed that the sale of watermelon and onions were not the preserve of a particular sex but rather served as the main source of livelihood in the communities.
It also indicated that there was little production and marketing support from the Assemblies to Onion and Watermelon producers. According to the research, the Assemblies had agreed that they had the mandate at promoting onion production by creating an enabling environment through the collaboration with Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Irrigation Development Authority and providing marketing facilities to the farmers.
?The Assembly also specifically mentioned the promotion of onion and watermelon production and marketing as part of their Medium Term Development Plan since onion and watermelon are part of reducing poverty in the area?.
The research recommended the need for the Assemblies to develop participatory platform involving all the stakeholders in the fee fixing of marketing fees for producers.
It also recommended that the small scale farmers should form coalitions and build blocks so as to have a common voice and higher bargaining power for their concerns to be addressed.
Efforts should be made by the Assemblies to regulate the influx of onions from neigbouring countries so as to allow local producers to compete favourably on the market.
Mr Richard Ananga, a BUSAC Service provider who conducted the research impressed upon the Municipal and District Assemblies to ensure that they implemented the recommendations.
He said it was clear that the onion and watermelon industry had the potential of creating employment and if given the needed attention would help transform the livelihoods of the people.