Farmers appeal to Gov’t to empower research institutions to improve tomato varieties

The Tomato Farmers and Producers Association in the Upper East Region on Wednesday appealed to Government to support research institutions to conduct studies and help develop improved varieties of tomato seeds.

The farmers said they expected to see new varieties that included disease and pest resistant ones, weather resistant and other varieties that could stay longer without storage facilities.

They said two institutions that could be supported to undertake the research are Savannah Agriculture Research Institutions (SARI) and University for Development Studies (UDS).

The Tomato Producers Association of Nyariga (TOPAN) made the call on behalf of the Upper East Tomato Association at a Press Conference held at Bolgatanga on Wednesday and it was organised by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC).

Mr John Akaribo, a member of the Association who read the statement, explained that one the major problems confronting them was how to get improved tomato seeds  and indicated  that in view of the absence of the improved varieties most of the vegetables on their farms fail to develop fully.

The farmers said if they get improved seeds they would be able to produce much to feed the Northern Tomato Factory which currently was under producing because of lack of raw materials to feed it.

Mr Akaribo said “it is disheartening to know that the factory barely works effectively for only two months in a year due to lack of fresh tomato to process,” adding that “if farmers are provided with improved tomato seeds suitable for all round seasons we would produce enough to feed the factory”.

The farmers also stressed that there was the need for government to introduce a national seed strategy to provide farmers with reliable source of appropriate seeds and technical support which they noted the country lacked.

The Press Conference which was also used to disseminate research findings conducted by the BUSAC Service Provider in charge of the Upper East Region, Mr Richard Ananga, on “The Absence of improved Tomato Variety and its impact on Tomato Farming”, revealed that tomato farming was the major livelihoods of the people in the region and as a result of the lack of improved seeds and market for the produce lives of people were being affected.

He said this made it difficult for many of the farmers to pay back loans contracted from financial institutions leading to some of them attempting suicides.

Mr Ananga said the future of tomato farming was bright since many youth from the Region still expressed interest in going into large scale farming if they were given the necessary support to curtail rural migration.

The research recommended that tomato producers in Ghana should collaborate with their counterparts in Burkina Faso to exchange ideas and share information on production and marketing prospects.

Source: GNA

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