Kumasi, Sept 08, GNA - The Ghana Institute of Horticulturists has cautioned that Ghana risks loosing its share and competitiveness in the marketing of pineapples on the international market if the government's efforts at giving small-holder pineapple farmers access to planting materials of the MD2, a new variety of pineapple, is not speeded up.
Mrs G.M Timpo, President of the institute, said since its introduction into the European markets the value for Ghana's smooth "Cayenne" pineapple has been declining with the shifting in taste from smooth cayenne to MD2 pineapples.
The MD2, which was developed in Costa Rica, has captured about 70 percent of the European market.
Mrs Timpo was addressing the opening of the two-day fifth annual general meeting of the institute on Wednesday.
The MD2, she said, is said to be supper sweet, self-ripening with a longer shelf life and has more than two times the value of smooth cayenne pineapple.
In an address read for him, Prof Kassim Kasanga, Minister of Environment and Science, said the horticultural export industry in Ghana is one success story of a private sector-led industry, giving meaning to government's vision of making the private sector the engine of growth. He said total volume of Ghana's horticultural export more than doubled in the past decade.
The Minister said he was not happy that most Ghanaian horticultural exports target the low value end, denying the country of the true value of the volumes of exports.
Prof Kasanga suggested that to lift the horticultural industry to a higher level of sophistication, horticulturists should expand the production base of existing export crops and also develop new ones on sustainable basis.
Also, the institute should develop a more co-ordinated approach to the development of the horticultural industry and ensure that small-scale growers and exporters are not left out in the growth of the industry.
In an address read on his behalf, Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo, the Ashanti Regional Minister, said the increase in the production of traditional crops like cocoa ''does not necessarily entail increase in export earnings mainly because the world prices are dictated to the producers by the buyers.''
Mr Boafo said the government would therefore fully commit itself to diversification to help the country to depend less on traditional exports.