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25.07.2004 Togo

VR vegetable farmers to understudy counterparts in Togo, Benin

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Anloga, July 25, GNA - A group of farmers from the Keta and Ketu districts of the Volta Region are to be sponsored by the Government to understudy vegetable farming in Agou and Malabo in the Republics of Togo and Benin respectively.

Major (rtd.) Courage Quarshigah, the Minister for Agriculture, who announced this said, "the package is to broaden the skills in vegetable farming in the Keta, Denu and Aflao areas as being done in Agou and Malabo."

He said a tomato processing and fruit juice extraction machine being procured from Italy would be sited at Keta, for the processing of tomato and mango for local consumption and for export. The Minister expressed the hope that the plant would end the annual post harvest loses in these produce in the area.

Inaugurating the over 450-member Keta District Vegetable Farmers and Marketers Association (KEDVEFMA), at Anloga on Saturday, Major Quarshigah stated that Government was focused on making the country independent in agricultural production.

He said all the linkages including production; post harvest management, processing and marketing were being coordinated to eliminate all bottlenecks, which hindered growth of the sector in the past. Major Quashigah advised members of the association to unite and work hard to repay any loans to justify further assistance.

The Minister, who also announced the allocation of 7,000 US-dollar loan to KEDVEFMA by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), advised the members to unite and work hard to repay all credit facilities to justify future support.

He subscribed to the use of wind-propelled micro irrigation equipment and solar pumps by the members to reduce energy cost. Mr. Anatolio Ndembah, FAO Country Director, said because small farms contributed to food security, the fight against hunger and the elimination of poverty, the FAO would always support them. He said Ghana's food production; processing and marketing efforts to change its status as a food-deficit country were on course with his organisation's support.

Mr. Edward Ahiabor, Chairman of the nine-member executive committee of KEDVEFMA, called for the establishment of a Vegetable Marketing Board (VMB) in Ghana similar to those in Brazil and Kenya or the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to direct production and marketing of vegetables to end the frustration of farmers in the country. He also asked for the evaluation of sites in the flood plains of rivers for underground water to increase Tube Well Irrigation in the area.