The Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition, a trade and agriculture policy advocacy and research non-governmental organization, is to hold a strategic meeting of stakeholders this month to finalise a roadmap for the establishment of a joint Tomato Enterprise between Ghana and Burkina Faso.
The aim of the joint venture between the two countries is to help to find a lasting solution to the problems confronting tomato farmers in both countries, especially in the area of marketing.
Mr Ibrahim Akalbila, Coordinator of GTLC, told the Ghana News Agency that the meeting would assess the desire of stakeholders to commit to assign roles towards the implementation of a roadmap developed at the last conference in August 2010 in Bolgatanga.
Key issues that would engage attention of the stakeholders include the establishment of an independent management board of NTSC, the development of a strategic plan for the factory and the funding requirements to ensure sustainable production.
Mr Akalbila said appointment of an independent board for the factory would enhance credibility and improved policy direction as well as to enable the management to develop a business plan to provide confidence to other actors in the industry.
He said there should also be efforts to establish a clear network of value chain actors and linkages while small scale tomato farmers in the catchments of the factory were registered as well as identify and register and sign Memorandum of Understanding with tomato farmers in Burkina Faso, among others.
“It is our hope that all elements of this plan with the help of government as a key stakeholder must be in place by 2012 to facilitate increased production of tomatoes in the two neighbouring countries for the Northern Star Tomato Factory,” he said.
Mr Akalbila said the implementation of the programme would enhance job creation and remove the bottlenecks of marketing to ensure that farmers stepped up production to feed the factory.
“Our vision is to ensure that NTSC become a profitable agro processing company that will improve the livelihoods of small scale farmers in Ghana and Burkina Faso and create opportunity for other value chain actors such as transporters, suppliers and marketers,” he added.
The GTLC, which has undertaken feasibility studies to come out with a model for a proposed tomato joint venture between Ghana and Burkina Faso, said inability of farmers to step up production had resulted in the factory halting production for most part of the year.
Currently, the Upper East Region produces about 6,960 tonnes of tomato every season and through traders, who purchase for the retail market an additional supply of 6,562 tonnes from Burkina Faso.
The Northern Star Tomato Factory has capacity to process 500 metric tones per day.
“Hopefully the road map will help expand the catchment area for the production and supply of fresh tomato to the factory to include Upper west and Northern regions,” Mr Akalbila added.