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24.02.2007 General News

UE Tomato Farmers Commend Gov't

By A.A. Mbord, Bolgatanga

THE Coalition of Tomato Farmers in the Upper East Region, has commended the government for the bold step it has initiated to revamp the Pwalugu Tomato Factory.

This is because it would rescue the farmers from the annual tomato glut and the monopoly enjoyed by market queens who dictate the price of their produce to their detriment.

The coalition comprises Tomato Producers Association of Nyariga (TOPAN), Tomato and Rice Farmers Network of Upper East, Upper East Tomato Growers Association and Former National Award Winners from the region.

In a petition to the Upper East Regional Minister and Minister of Food and Agriculture, members of the coalition said farmers in the region in general and tomato farmers in particular received with great joy the announcement that the Pwalugu Tomatoe Factory was going to be revamped to serve as a major source of market for the produce.

'This informed a lot of farmers to increase their acreage and go in for loans from banks, money lenders while others sold their livestock.'

'We have started harvesting, but our joy is fast turning into worries because we are encountering a lot of problems.'

The petition noted that though they have learnt with satisfaction that the revamped factory has successfully carried out two Test-Runs, it is currently shut down and not operating.

Unfortunately too, the market queens have stopped buying from them because of the presence of the factory and rather travel to Burkina Faso to buy.

'As a result, we are back to square one as our produce has started rotting on the farms.

The petition, signed by the chairman Mr. Abdulai Asuah, appealed to the regional minister as a matter of urgency to intervene to ensure that 'the factory starts production.'

According to them a representative of the factory informed them at a meeting recently that the factory will start production within the next two weeks, but by then their produce would have perished.

The coalition has therefore further appealed to the regional minister as a stop gap to use his good offices to dialogue with the market queens to purchase the produce.

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