The Ghana Institute of Horticulturists (GhIH) has been held with a call on government to formulate crop-specific policies for tomatoes and onions, aimed at boosting production and processing, thereby reducing importation and creating employment opportunities for the youth.
Government and other stakeholders in the horticulture industry formulating the policies and investing in the industry would help to address the food insecurity situation, particularly, for horticultural produce to meet the population demand and also for export.
According to the Horticulturists, the escalating food insecurity in the country is evident in the substantial importation of horticultural produce like tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, and sweet peppers into the country.
The GhIH made the call through a communique signed by the President, Prof. Abdul-Halim Abubakar and the Secretary Dr. Mohammed Mujitaba Dawuda after their 23rd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference held in Kumasi of the Ashanti Region.
The conference dubbed 'Sustainable Crop Production and Food Security through Regenerative Horticulture' brought together stakeholders from the industry, academicians, researchers, and students among others to grace the occasion.
Emphasizing the necessity for regenerative and sustainable agricultural practices to ensure food security, "we call on the Government to collaborate with stakeholders and local authorities to curb the activities that contribute to environmental degradation, such as land destruction, deforestation, and pollution of our water bodies, they said.
"While acknowledging Government efforts like the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) and the One Village One Dam policies, the increase in financial support to the horticulture industry to take advantage of these policies for enhanced food security and job creation through demand-driven research and training of extension staff for farmers engaged in the cultivation of horticultural crops," they said.
The GhIH advocates for strengthened inspection and monitoring of agro-chemicals, especially pesticides, by institutions like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), and the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) to curb the incidence of food poisoning and safeguard the health of citizens.
They said, the neglect of urban green spaces, city road medians, and overall town and city landscapes critical for environmental health could hamper development and therefore called on both the Government and private entities to invest in the proper maintenance of the spaces for beautification and enhanced environmental health in the country.
"We appeal to Government, as a matter of urgency, consider having members of GhIH on the Advisory Boards of MoFA, EPA, FDA, GSA to support the ministry and agencies in matters related to the production, post-harvest handling, and safety standards for horticultural produce intended for both local and international markets."
The GhIH also expressed readiness to support the government's efforts in implementing the Planting for Food and Jobs phase 2 programme, especially in increasing horticultural crop production for items like tomatoes and onions.