Ziope (V/R), Jul 29, GNA-The perennial phenomenon of post-harvest losses associated with tomato production in the Agotime-Ziope district is drifting away with some form of patronage from buyers within the country and especially neighbouring Togo and Benin.
The farmer’s dream is gradually becoming a reality from their toils unlike the post-harvest losses suffered in the past in this sector.
Many cargo trucks are seen carrying tomato boxes from the enclave bringing smiles to the farmers and the Assembly in terms of revenue.
Madam Emilia Emefa Adzimah, the District Chief Executive told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that unlike previous the situation is game, and the Assembly is already maximising on revenues from the liftings.
She disclosed that expectations for the 2022 tomato season post COVID-19 are bright compared to its production figures of 1,350 hectares and 11,610 metric tons for 2021.
The 2020 figures were 1,620 hectares and 35,640 metric tons.
“For now, our target is to get a reliable market for what we have now on the table because they are perishable foods.”
The Assembly expects to collaborate with research institutions and investors to deploy innovation to expand the fields towards commercialising the venture.
The assembly again is also making every effort to get investors to take up the processing aspect by so doing the farmers are willing to do all round season with the help of irrigation.
The expectation of the Assembly with the support of investors to make the district the largest tomato production hub in the region and country at large within the next two to five years.
Mr Seth Kwuashi Negble, Chairman of the Vegetable Growers Association of Ziope, declared to the GNA that the season, between July and September, was about to pick up with August being the month of bumper harvest in the enclave.
He said apart from subsistence cultivation of the commodity, farms were as large as between 10 to 20 acres per head.
He said haulage trucks make a daily lifting of between 15 to 30 trips.
He outlined challenges such as inflated costs of chemicals and engagement of casual labour and specifically said costs of weedicides and fertilizers have been outrageous in recent time.
For instance, Negble, tomato farmer since 1990 said the fertilizer subsidy of 25 kg being sold for GHC53 rose to GHC 150 and currently selling on the open market at GHC 400 plus
He added the harassment of border agents, immigration, and police, of cross border buyers, who report frustrations, has a potential of derailing business, and therefore called on state authority to assist them.
On the commodity variety, Mr Negble said the Association of over 2,000 members is collaborating with a research institution at Legon, for improved seedlings, boosting taste, shelf life and the right variety for canning purposes considering the climatic condition and soil structure.
He is optimistic to recommend tomato cultivation to the youth to explore, a business venture that lasts for only three-months to recoup investments, all things being equal.