Vegetable farmers at Gyinyase and Ahinsan in the Asokwa Municipality of the Ashanti Region, say they have been recording post-harvest loses due to the lack of ready market largely caused by the importation of vegetables from neighboring countries.
According to the farmers, although they have been advised by agricultural experts to cultivate various types of vegetables in order to easily access the market, the challenge still persists.
The lack of storage facilities also means that their farm produce go waste anytime they are unable to get buyers on time.
The farmers are faced with stiff competition from people who import vegetables from neighboring Togo, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
According to some lettuce farmers, the support Togolese farmers get from their government through the provision of irrigation facilities improves their yield at a lower cost, which means they can sell their produce at cheaper prices in Ghana as compared to Ghanaians who cultivate vegetables.
The farmers say getting access to irrigation facilities will boost their activities; and are thus appealing to government to consider reducing or placing a ban on the importation of vegetables into the country to make local farmers gain more from the market.
“There are times that we don’t get market for our farm produce. When it happens like that, all our vegetables go waste. There is virtually nothing we can do under such circumstances. So, we want the government to come to our aid.
Some of the Vegetables are at times imported from Togo and the buyers prefer the imported ones to ours. We would have had access to market had it not been the importation. This is primarily as a result of the fact that the Togolese government has supported the farmers by providing irrigation facilities which improve their yields. We, therefore, want the government to control the level of importation and also provide us with irrigation facilities,” a farmer appealed.
Those who serve as intermediaries and buy the farm produce directly from the local farmers for sale elsewhere have also stressed on the need for government to provide irrigation facilities to sustain the activities of these farmers.
According to them, their sales are being affected by people’s preference for imported vegetables.
“I buy the farm produce from Kumasi and sell to other buyers at the Agbogbloshie Market. The business was booming when I started; but we have been negatively affected as a result of the importation from Togo. They prefer the vegetables from Togo to the ones from Ghana. Even for the past two months, I have been out of a job,” Mary Nsiah, who has been buying from the local farmers lamented.
The farmers have also identified access to seedlings and fertilizers as a major problem that should be tackled seriously by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and scientists from various educational institutions.
“There are times that we find it difficult getting seedlings in the country. In some cases, we travel as far as to Togo and Burkina Faso to get the seedlings. So, we are appealing to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to collaborate with educational institutions to research into it to get our own seed that will suit our weather conditions,” a farmer stated.
As a measure to address challenges associated with access to irrigation facilities, the Asokwa Municipal Agric Director, Martha Ashami Armah, said in the meantime, farmers can apply to have an irrigation system fixed on their farms at a cost.
She, however, wants the government to take steps to streamline the importation of vegetables into the country.
“The government has brought in some irrigation facilities and tractors to be sold to them at subsidized prices. So, if they are ready, we will link them to get some of these irrigation facilities. We are trying to see if we can get them a mini dam so that during the dry season, they can go into serious dry season vegetable production.”
“With the issue of importation of vegetables into the country thereby affecting the market of local farmers, I think the government should bring in some legislation. Sometimes, they bring vegetables from as far as Burkina Faso, Niger and others so we are pleading with the government to come in with a legislation. It will help our farmers get the local produce sold for our farmers to get the money to go into bigger businesses.”
Douglas Agyei, who was awarded as the 2nd Best Farmer in the Asokwa Municipality, says the importation of vegetables does not favour local farmers.
Despite the challenges they’re facing, he’s urging the youth to venture into vegetable farming, saying it is a commercially viable business.
“…Because of this work, I can provide everything for my family, but some of the youth don’t know the advantages in it, so they don’t want to engage in it”.