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30.01.2006 Business & Finance

New boost for Ghana tomato industry

By Gabriel Amoah, Techiman
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- B/A processing centre will help minimise post-harvest losses

In an attempt to move from economic stagnation to growth especially in the sector of agriculture, the Ghana government and Italy, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will soon establish a tomato processing promotion centre at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The project, which will cost ¢10.5 billion, is to help boost the tomato industry as well as solve the problem of post-harvest losses facing tomato farmers in the area.

The FAO Representative in Ghana, Edourd Tapsoba, announced this at a handing over ceremony of the project site to the contractor, Jobeak Company Limited, at Techiman at the weekend.

Mr Tapsoba noted that the issue of post-harvest losses, which range from 30 to 40 percent in the case of tomato, has been a source of worry to most farmers and the government.

Techiman and its environs produce large quantities of tomatoes annually but suffer huge post-harvest losses especially during the major harvesting season. He said the project when completed, will help reduce the importation of tomato paste into the country thereby increasing local productivity.

“This will also enable farmers in the country to have a ready market for their produce to spare them the ordeal they normally go through after harvesting the produce”.

Mr Tapsoba lauded the excellent partnership that has existed between the government of Ghana, Italy and the FAO.

The Italian Ambassador, Fabrizaio De Agostini, said his government attaches much importance to the success of the project, explaining that Italy cancelled the $42 million debt Ghana owed her because of the effort of the government of Ghana to improve the standard of living of the people.

He was optimistic that the project when completed will provide jobs for the youth and also reduce poverty, particularly in the Techiman municipality and the nation at large.

Ernest Akobour Debrah, Ghana's Minister for Agriculture, added that though the objectives of the project are very laudable, its realisation will depend solely on the collective efforts of all those who have stake in the project. He said government recognises the numerous plights of tomato farmers in the country and will do every thing in its power to support them with the needed financial assistance logistics to boost the industry.

The Agric Minister therefore called on traditional authorities, assembly members, religious leaders and the community at large to support and monitor the activities of the contractor to ensure timely completion of the project. He also appealed to the farmers in the project area to see the project as theirs and work assiduously to feed the factory with quality tomatoes to sustain it.

Mr Debrah said his ministry would monitor the progress of the project to ensure that it is completed on schedule.