Upper East Tomato farmers ask government to address their plight
Tomato farmers in the Upper East Region on Friday issued a threat that they would not vote for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party if the government fails to address their plight.
The farmers, who issued the threat in a communiqué at a forum organized by Trade Aid in Bolgatanga, expressed dismay about the government’s inability to revamp the Northern Star Tomato Factory and to ensure a ready market for tomato producers.
This, they noted, posed a lot of frustrations as they went through a lot of drudgery to produce the vegetable without getting market for their produce.
“Apart from that, most of us farmers lack the requisite knowledge in the application of chemicals and other farming practices and yet we are left on our own”.
Another major issue facing them they indicated was the poor state of the Vea Dam, which supply water for dry season irrigation farming and for the supply of portable water for the Bolgatanga Township and its environs.
“The Dam since its construction in the 1960s has never seen any major rehabilitation. All the canals are broken down hindering the effective supply of water to the farms.
“Lack of viable seed for farmers to use of late has been another constraint. The seeds in the system are suspected to be imitations. This is because as soon as it germinates and is transplanted, the crop dies, thereby rendering the farmer impoverished”, the farmers said.
Another major threat, the farmers cited was lack of ready market as the tomatoes deteriorate on the farms because there are no buyers.
“Access road was another major problem confronting the farmers as we often find it very difficult to convey our produce to the marketing centres. Lack of assistance in the form of subsidized fertilizer and other farming inputs in substantial quantities by government is of great worry as well”.
The communiqué said: “We the tomato farmers in the Region would organize frequent demonstrations to drum home our message. We have also vowed to boycott any future elections should our concerns fail to be addressed”.
The farmers, therefore, stressed the need for government to as a matter of urgency make all effort to ensure that the Northern Star Tomato Factory is properly revamped to work effectively.
“Secondly, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture should embark on regular training of farmers on the correct and proper use of chemicals and other farm inputs”.
The farmers also reminded government that, the rehabilitation of the Vea Dam which was the first to be established in the 1960, needed urgent attention due to its faulty canals.
Government, they noted should also construct and rehabilitate more small scale irrigation dams to ease the pressure on the Vea dam.
“There is also the need for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to ensure that there are improved and viable seeds in the system for the farmers to use rather than relying on imported seeds, which viability cannot be relied upon.
“To give a facelift to the entire production process, vegetable seed production should be incorporated into the seed grower system. There should be regulation on our borders to restrict tomato buyers from patronizing tomatoes from our neighbouring countries to the disadvantage to our local farmers”.
They called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to sponsor soil research of the various farm lands so as to deal with diseases associated with the soil.
They said almost every farmer in the town and village were into dry season tomato farming and stressed that there was no doubt that if the tomato problem was addressed it would help reduce poverty level in the Region and also help curb rural urban migration in the area.
The Director of Trade Aid, Mr Nicholas Apokera, explained that the forum was part of Trade Aid’s yearly interaction with stakeholders of the tomatoes industry in the Region to jointly discuss the challenges of the sector and to explore ways of addressing them.