Tomato producers make gains as border closure halts importation from Burkina Faso
The effect of the novel coronavirus is massive across the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many economic activities leading to job losses, but there has been some positive gains too. In Ghana, tomatoes producers/farmers in the country are among the luckiest – they are on the winning side following closure of the borders to the neighboring countries.
Over the years, Ghana has been importing a chunk of its fresh tomatoes from neighboring country, Burkina Faso, but the closure of borders coupled with low production, has shifted the focus to local tomato producers at Tuobodom in the Techiman North District, the Bono East Region.
Since the lock-down came to being, the local producers of tomatoes have witnessed an exponential increase in demand by buyers who would have usually imported from Burkina Faso.
Ghana loses CFA56 billion, approximately US$99.5 million to Burkina Faso through the importation of fresh tomatoes annually.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana, and the subsequent closure of the country’s borders, Burkina Faso was the main destination for fresh tomatoes – the importers hitherto neglected tomatoes produced in place like Tuobodom and they have various reasons for that.
But following the continuous closure of the borders, women who travel to Burkina Faso for fresh tomatoes are now patronizing tomatoes from Tuobodom – according to the National Chairman for Federation of Tomato Growers Association of Ghana [Mr Baffour Afrifa].
”Tomato farmers in Tuobodom are happy about the situation, as a box of tomato, which used to be sold at 20 cedis at the beginning of 2020, is now selling for 700 cedis,” he stated .
“Market is good; they are now buying the tomatoes. We are calling on government to put in measures that would ensure that they buy from here than going to Burkina Faso.”
“What Government can do is that they should ensure that they buy tomatoes from here, then when the season is over they can go to Burkina Faso,” Mr. Baffuor Afrifa appealed.
Mr Afrifa indicated the Tomato Importers are, however, calling for an improved variety to be produced by the local farmers to prevent wastage after harvest, as that will help to reduce the importation of the product from Burkina Faso. He stated:
“At times it is good, there is a difference between that of Ghana and Burkina Faso. Ghana tomatoes does not last, within three to four days they go bad, but produce from Burkina Faso can last for a week. We are calling on the researchers to produce quality varieties and the farmers should reduce the use of chemicals because with Burkina Faso it is more organic.”
“We have a problem with our seeds, we are therefore looking for help to get seeds that have high quality that would be favourable with the weather. We have delibrated with BUSAC, and it was sponsored by DANIDA. We have gone as far as the Ministry of Agriculture. We have also met with Crop Research so that we can get seeds of high quality that can match with that of Burkina”, he added.