The government has decided to construct small irrigation systems with solar-powered pumps for constant supply of water to farming fields to make the production of fresh tomato an all-year round activity.
Mr. George Oduro, a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, said when he addressed a stakeholders meeting of the tomato farming industry at Tuobodom in the Techiman North District of Brong-Ahafo Region.
It was organised by the District Assembly at the instance of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to identify solutions to challenges confronting tomato farmers in the area.
Other stakeholders in attendance were local tomato traders and some executive members of the Ghana National Tomato Traders and Transporters Association (GNTTTA).
Ghana has two periods in a year for fresh tomato planting and harvesting-middle of February to June, the major season and early September to mid-November, the minor season.
But in the greater part of the two seasons, the country experiences either no rainfall or a scanty amount of rainfall because of climate change, affected planting and harvesting.
Hence, the government in addition to other measures and initiatives through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) would be constructing the small irrigation systems to make water available to the tomato farmers all year, Mr. Oduro stated.
He announced that there was also a plan to construct cold room facilities to provide space for the storage of the fresh tomatoes to avoid glut during harvesting period and to ensure adequate and constant supply to the market, besides feeding a processing plant to be built in the area under the government’s One District, One Factory programme.
Mr. Oduro however urged the farmers to consult the District Directorate of MoFA to rely on the services of Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs) to adhere to best tomato farming practices for quality production.
The farmers through Mr. Baffour Afrifa, the Chairman of their Association, had earlier indicated among other challenges and grievances that there were inadequate AEAs to attend to them, in addition to the challenge of marketing because the traders preferred the products of Burkina Faso to those produced locally.
Mr. Oduro assured that the government through the MoFA was going to employ more AEAs.
On the issue related to importation of tomatoes from Burkina Faso, he said, the farmers must endeavour to do things right to support government’s effort to improve the quality, to attract the importers to buy locally, for the money to remain in the Ghanaian economy.
Mr. Eric Osei Tuffuor, the Chairman of GNTTTA, said the move among other benefits would assist in retaining greater chunk of money, if not, all will be used for importation of fresh tomato from Burkina Faso .
It would also create abundance of the commodity for both domestic and commercial consumption as Ghanaians consume 90 per cent of the commodity produced in Burkina Faso.