Participants at the third edition of the Virtual Business Forum, which is part of this year’s Citi Business Festival, are calling for a policy shift to reduce the importation of basic vegetables such as tomatoes.
Ghana imported 99 million cedis worth of tomatoes from Burkina Faso in 2018.
The country is said to also import over fifty thousand cattle from neighboring countries to be slaughtered and sold in various markets.
Speaking on Citi TV, the 2009 National Best Farmer, Davies Korboe, said Ghana cannot continue to import basic vegetables when farmers in the country can grow them under better conditions with the right support.
“The 99 million cedis tomato importation was only from Burkina Faso. 90 percent of the tomatoes we consume in Ghana are being imported; that tells you the kind of jobs that we are creating out there”.
Mr. Korboe stated that the current environment does not encourage young people to access funds to enter into agriculture.
“If you take your business plan to the bank for a loan it is not that easy. It doesn’t matter whatever package you have, it is not easy. I am speaking from experience”, he said, explaining that the interest rates on loans coupled with the time that will be needed by a financial institution before loans are approved for agriculture is discouraging.
Animal Scientist, Doris Yaa Osei, who was part of the panel bemoaned the increase in importation of livestock that could be easily reared in Ghana to create jobs.
She stated for example that the import of pork, poultry and cattle, has seen tremendous increase over the years despite the fact that meat from these animals can be produced locally.
“In 2018, we imported about six million cedis of poultry into this country. Cattle, 120 million cedis, pork 13 million cedis ;sheep and goat about 14 million cedis. The total meat import was about 740 million cedis in 2018 alone”.
Madam Osei disclosed that most of the livestock were imported into the country alive and slaughtered for sale.
She maintained that there is no justification for Ghana to import livestock worth 740 million cedis.
Head of Agribusiness at Absa Bank Ghana, William Nettey, advised that young entrepreneurs who wish to enter into agribusiness must first consider the value chain in the sector.
Agribusiness Consultant Ken Addy reiterated that farming is a business that must be approached with professionalism.