Middlemen Threaten Activities Of Vegetable Farmers
Some vegetable farmers in the Bawku area have called on government to intervene and redeem them from activities of middlemen who consistently cheat them with the pretext of helping to buy their produce.
The Upper East Region is noted for the cultivation of vegetables such as; tomatoes and onions. However, because the farmers cannot retail their produce, they often sell the harvest in wholesale at prices controlled by middlemen.
The farmers complained that the actions by the middlemen who were mostly natives, and resold the produce to market queens, were virtually pushing them out of the farming business saying 'the middlemen have taken undue advantage of the lack of storage facilities for our produce which are perishable to offer us low prices'.
Chief Bukari Issah, the 2016 National Onions Best Farmer lamented 'Some may buy and come and tell you that they could not sell your produce because these products went bad, and that will end it'.
Chief Issah who is the Chief of Jantiga in the Bawku Municipality, spoke on behalf of farmers based in the Bawku Municipality, Binduri, Pusiga, Garu-Tempane and the Bawku West districts told the Ghana News Agency 'Currently, they buy a bag of onions at Ghâ‚µ120.00 from us, but we suspect they sell the same size of bag to the market queens at about Ghâ‚µ200.00'.
The Chief called on government to facilitate the process to get permanent buyers to work with the farmers directly and said 'if we know that, we have a ready market, you will see that, everybody will enjoy farming. So government should come to our aid' he emphasized.
Reiterating the menace of middlemen to farmers, Mr Joe Abanga, another National Best farmer for Onion in 1994, indicated that vegetable farmers were being extorted by these middlemen to enrich themselves while the farmers continued to live in impoverished lives.
'The middlemen get all the money and build all the houses. They are too rich than we the farmers and we are suffering on the ground'.
The farmers therefore appealed to government to ensure that there was direct ready market for them to sell their produce after harvest.
The GNA investigations revealed that activities of the middlemen was too powerful to break through as they were united such that any farmer who circumvented to have his or her produce sold on the markets faced the wrath of the middlemen who sometimes ensured that such farmers' produce perished.
Having collated the views of the farmers, Mr Charles Akwotiga, the Bawku Municipal Director of Agriculture, suggested to them to form associations that could identify direct markets to reduce activities of the middlemen.
'Because agriculture produce are very perishable, the middlemen take advantage to buy the produce at prices of their choice. This is the biggest challenge we have' Mr Akwotiga bemoaned.