Government has begun the implementation of a specialized project aimed at supporting farmers in the Upper East Region to sustainably increase production of tomatoes to meet the country’s demand.
To this end, more than 400 hundred farmers selected from four districts have been given three varieties of tomatoes seeds to nurse and plant this dry season on pilot basis, while plans were advanced to include many more farmers before the end of 2022.
The farmers were selected from Kassena-Nankana and Bolgatanga Municipals, Bongo and Talensi Districts and given Petomech, Raja and Sikapa, improved and high yielding varieties of tomatoes to plant and serve as basis for scaling up.
Mr Francis Ennor, Upper East Regional Director, Department of Agriculture, disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Bolgatanga.
Approximately, Ghana spends about US$99.5 million to import fresh tomatoes from Burkina Faso annually, according to the Ghana National Tomatoes Traders and Transporters Association.
According to Mr Ennor, this was unacceptable that Ghana loses billion of Ghana Cedis to neighboring countries particularly Burkina Faso through tomato importation when farmers in the country had the capacity to produce and take advantage of the available market.
He said apart from the high yielding varieties given to the farmers, a Scientist was engaged to support the farmers especially with the provision of nematicides to control the infestation of nematodes and ensure good yields.
“Nematodes are the most dangerous diseases that affect tomatoes in this region and that is what led to most of the farmers abandoning tomato production in the Tono area, so once there is a remedy now and they will go back to production,” he said.
Aside this, government has also come into an agreement with the Ghana Tomato Traders and Transporters Association to purchase the tomatoes that would be produced instead of importing from Burkina Faso, he added.
This, Mr Ennor noted, would create numerous employment avenues in the tomato value chain,such as producing enough tomatoes to meet the Ghanaian market and curtail the importation of tomatoes from neighboring countries like Burkina Faso as well as boost the local economy.
He said tomatoes could be produced within three months and added that when the market was secured, the youth would be encouraged to venture into large scale production, which addressed migration issues and reduced poverty.
The Regional Director noted that government was committed to supporting farmers in the region to produce enough tomatoes to feed some of the factories in the country and to meet the demands of the international market.