‘Onions, Tomatoes Importation Is Unacceptable’

Former Research Scientist with the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI), Dr. Roger Kanton has lamented the increasing importation of onions, tomatoes, and other perishable crops from neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso to augment what is produced locally in the country.

Data from the Ministry of Trade and Industries pegs Ghana’s import from Burkina alone at U$$400 million worth of tomatoes with annual market demand of 800,000Mt of which the country produces between 300,000 and 400,000 Mt.

In 2021, Ghana imported $33.1m worth of in onions, becoming the world’s 42nd largest importer. In the same year, onions were Ghana’s 132nd most imported product.

Ghana imports onions primarily from: Niger ($21.7M), China ($8.83M), Netherlands ($928k), Morocco ($695k), and Nigeria ($550k).

Speaking at the annual thought leadership event by the Alumni Association of Sweden Senior High School (SWESCO) dubbed the Swedru Conversation under the theme, “Feeding Our As A Nation,” Dr. Kanton lamented the country’s inability to feed itself aside from having large tracks of arable lands and enormous water bodies but are seriously underutilized.

“We have the capacity to produce all the vegetable crops such as tomatoes, onion, okro, chili pepper cabbages, watermelon, and sweet potatoes for the international market. Unfortunately, the African governments including Ghana have paid lip services to support hardworking farmers to produce all that we need to improve our livelihood.

“Importation of onion, tomatoes is impossible because the Ghanaian farmer has both the comparative and competitive skills and experience also to produce sufficient rice, maize soya beans, livestock, and poultry products to feed Ghana as well as export surplus to our neighboring towns in Sahelian countries to earn hard foreign exchange,” he said.

Dr. Enoch Tham-Agyekum who spoke on Agricultural Extension and Development Communication, said agriculture is potentially driven by information stating that without it our practices are fraught with old traditional farming methods which are characterized by low productivity and vulnerability to climate variability.

To increase access to information access to farmers he opposed an increase in the number of extension officers per farmer to bridge the extension-farmer ratio, indicating that access to timely, relevant, and quality information will aid the country’s quest for food sufficiency.


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