Market uncertainties put tomato farmers in fix
Dry season farmers in the Upper East Region are in a fix as to how much tomato seedlings they should nurse in preparation for the next farming season because they are not certain of the quantity of produce the Northern Star Tomato Factory at Pwalugu can purchase from them.
The farmers who met in Bolgatanga on Wednesday to discuss the situation, said the ideal time to start nursing tomatoes would be in September, and that they wanted to know the availability of good market so they would know how much tomato to nurse.
They explained that they were worried because they suffered loses last year when the factory failed to buy their produce.
Mr Mark Woyongo, Regional Minister, however, assured them that he would do his best to liaise with the authorities concerned so that the factory would be strengthened financially to carry out its duties.
He told the farmers that the Government placed premium on Agriculture and would ensure that they had the right incentives and encouragement to produce as much as they were capable of. “It is unacceptable that the farmers produce and the commodity gets rotten, the factory should be able to absorb all that is available”, he added.
The Northern Star Tomato factory at Pwalugu near Bolgatanga, has a capacity to process 500 metric tonnes of tomatoes and can do 5000 crates of 100 kilogrammes each a day.
Mr. Kwabena Darkwa, Farm Operations Manager, had earlier told the farmers that he could not assure them of ready market because the factory which is owned by the Government had not yet received funds for operations this year. That however, did not mean that they would not be buying because the funds could be released to the factory at anytime, he said.
He said the factory was in good shape and could work without interruptions if it had enough funds and raw material.
Mr. Darkwa said but for the lack of funds, the original plan of the factory to acquire land, prepare it, and provide farmers with seed and other inputs to produce to feed the factory, could have been carried out this year.
He however appealed to the farmers to be patient and asked that whenever they sold
tomatoes to the factory, farmers should allow a grace period to enable the factory management to process their payment.