Ghanaian vegetable farmers have asked government to step up its efforts at getting the European Union to lift the ban on exports of selected vegetables from the country.
The farmers say they are losing substantial revenue as a result of the ban because the sale of vegetables at the local market has not been fetching them enough revenue as compared to what they would have earned through export to the EU.
But speaking at the launch of the 2016 Vegetable Business Opportunities Report (VBOR) in Accra Wednesday, the sector Minister, Alhaji Limuna Mohammed-Muniru assured the government was addressing their concerns.
The 2016 Vegetable Business Opportunities Report (VBOR) prepared by the GhanaVeg, is an initiative of the Netherlands Embassy in line with efforts towards prioritizing commercial agriculture.
The Food and Agriculture Minister said a multi stakeholder committee set up by government to lead the process of getting the EU ban lifted is making progress.
He said adopting safe, sound and responsible practices in the cultivation of vegetables will guarantee the sustainability of the vegetable value chain which includes farmers, transporters and distributors.
“It was our inability to handle the basis of safe vegetable farming that resulted the ban on exports of selected vegetable to the EU since September last year,” the minister said.
“We have lost much needed foreign exchange, income for farmers and employment creation avenues for Ghanaians especially the youth,” he added.
Alhaji Mohammed-Muniru said the Ministry collaborated with Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD) to establish the green label that provides certification for agricultural produce such as vegetable to reaffirm its safety for consumption.
He said government was also exploring the use of greenhouses to cultivate vegetable production to ensure that farming practices were undertaken under safe conditions and reassure vegetable consumers that the country’s vegetables are safer and healthier.
In an interview with Onua FM, Deputy Programmes Leader of GhanaVeg, Sheila Assibey-Yeboah said the 2016 VBOR highlighted key issues that would help invigorate the sector.
She said the report also identified the inadequate number of extension office for the falling standards of sanitary operations of vegetables farmers in the country.
The vegetable business report accused the excessive import of vegetable produce as the cause behind the falling output of Ghanaian vegetable farmers.
According to the report, the domestic vegetable sector is struggling to survive since imported vegetables cost lower than the country’s high cost organically produced vegetable.
As a result, the report said, most Ghanaian vegetable consumers prefer the cheaper imported vegetables as compared to the locally grown ones.
By Nii Okai Tetteh|Onua 95.1FM|Ghana