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07.03.2007 General News

Farmers, traders agree terms to buy tomatoes from Upper East

By myjoyonline

Tomato farmers in the Upper East Region and tomato traders have agreed terms to end a standoff that has seen violent clashes between the two sides in the Upper East Region in which farmers have prevented traders from importing the produce from Burkina Faso.

Under a deal brokered by Philip Abayori, President of the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association, tomato traders would halt tomato imports from Burkina Faso immediately and resume buying the produce from the Upper East region.

The Tomato Traders Association of Ghana would only import temporarily to cover their demand when the need arose, but with the consent of the farmers.

“Tomato farmers and traders will negotiate for fair and competitive price at which tomato will be sold and bought in the region,” according to terms of the agreement.

The farmers frustrated at the traders preferring to but from Burkina Faso instead, thereby leaving their produce to rot, staged demonstrations and deflated the tyres of trucks that were fully loaded with tomatoes.

Under the terms, the two parties have agreed that tomato farmers would stop harassing traders with immediate effect and ensure an incident-free business when the purchases started.

Tomato farmers are also to classify the quality of tomatoes into three grades – Grade I, Grade II and Grade III.

Both traders and farmers agreed to form a joint task force to monitor the tomato trade and enforce agreements reached.

Mr Abayori said the terms, which were agreed at a meeting at the Teachers' Hall in Accra, had the blessings to ensure security to the traders.

“Their safety is therefore guaranteed when they resume purchases and (we) therefore look forward to seeing fair pricing and good trade practices and fruitful business relations between the two organisations.”

Mr Abayori said the farmers, who started harvesting their tomatoes in January, had expected to produce between 80,000 and 120,000 tonnes, but the traders, who were the main buyers, decided to buy instead from Burkina Faso citing better quality and more competitive price.

“The traders association also contended that they and the farmers could not establish common grounds hence did not agree terms before the start of the harvest as ad been the case.”

The traders, according to Mr Abayori, said they imported two billion cedis worth of tomato daily, thus leaving the farmers in the Upper East region with no share of the market.

With the agreement, the traders have pledged to move in immediately to quickly reduce the unsold tomato to the barest minimum and avoid losses.

Mr Abuga Pele, (NDC-Chiana-Paga), on February 28 called on government to step in and save tomato farmers in the Upper East Region who were faced with tomato glut.

“The farmers in the Upper East Region are in serious crisis because they were led into an unprecedented increase in production of tomato this season," the MP said in a statement in Parliament.

Mr Pele said the crisis had already led to two farmers in the region committing suicide.

Source: GNA