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10.10.2008 Business & Finance

Upper East Region tomato farmers hold stakeholders forum


Tomato farmers in Upper East Region on Friday held a stakeholders forum for tomato farmers and stakeholders to dialogue and institute an action plan to solve the annual production and marketing problems facing farmers.

It was on the theme, "Ensuring the Right to Adequate Food for the Tomato Farmer" and organized by management of Trade Aid Integrated and sponsored by Ghana Trade and Livelihoods Coalition.

The participants were from Northern Star Tomato Company Limited (NSTC), Irrigation Company of Upper East Region (ICOUR), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs).

A communiqué issued at the end of the forum and signed by Mr Ahmed Bogobire, President of Tono Irrigation Cooperative Farmers Union called for improvement in tomato production in the Region.

It said there was the need for NSTC to expedite action on the transportation of tomatoes from the farms during harvesting seasons.

The communiqué called on the management of the company to liaise with the farmers on the fixing of prices before each farming season.

It stressed the need for management of NSTC to ensure that tomato farmers were paid promptly during harvesting and MOFA to review the fertilizer coupon system and make more farming inputs accessible and affordable to farmers at subsidized prices.

The communiqué called on financial institutions and district assemblies to assist farmers to access loans and credit schemes to enhance their operations, while Government expedite action on the Agriculture Credit Fund Bill to enable farmers access credit for production.
It called on Government to adequately resource the NSTC in terms of finance and logistics to operate without hindrance and involve farmers in their operations.
The communiqué appealed to Government to rehabilitate and de-silt the Vea irrigation dam, which had not been rehabilitated since its establishment.
It commended Trade Aid Integrated for organizing several fora to sensitise and enlighten farmers on several issues, especially their livelihood.
Mr Nicholas Apokere, Executive Director of Trade Aid Integrated, said tomato farming was the major livelihood to many people in the Region therefore they ensure more efforts were sustained and consistent for farmers to produce and market their produce without problems.
He called for unity among the farmers to enable them address their needs.
At the end of the forum, a 13-member steering committee was established by management of Trade Aid Integrated to supervise activities of the farmers.
The managements of ICOUR, MOFA and NSTC pledged to assist the farmers cultivate and market their produce without problems.