Export value and volumes for yam have increased in recent times with pineapple, Ghana’s leading horticultural product, running the staple tuber crop a close second, particularly between 2007 and 2009.
Mr Gerald Nyarko Mensah, acting Director of Export Trade Support Services at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, made this known on Monday at a National Stakeholder Workshop organized in Accra.
It was to provide the forum for yam value chain actors to meet to decide on market targets, potential and segmentation; value chain performance issues and priority areas; response activities and strategy objectives and enabling environment support requirements.
The workshop, which was facilitated by the International Trade Centre and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, was to use participatory and stakeholder-led approach together with a sub-sector specific public-private platform to co-ordinate implementation.
Mr Mensah said pineapple export dropped in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the change in preference for the variety of the fruit crop.
He explained that the cultivation of the MD2 variety of the pineapple was said to have proven challenging for some farmers.
According to recent reports, Ghana’s leading horticultural product, fresh-cut pineapple, had suffered a steep decline in export and income over the past half-decade.
“From 2004, pineapple export volumes have dropped from a peak of 71,000 tonnes to about 29,000 tonnes in 2009, a decline of over 59 per cent.
Reasons attributed to the poor performance over the years, included a drop in Ghana’s competitiveness due to an increased cost of production caused by high costs of imported raw materials, and production inputs, low production volumes of key produce due to local producers’ inability to supply the quantities required by industry, and for export as well as short term, high interest credit facilities from the financial institutions.
Mr Mensah told the Ghana News Agency at the end of the opening session of the workshop that, during the period of decline in export and income for pineapple, yam exports increased and surpassed, particularly in 2010 and 2011.
He said in 2007 yam recorded $19,715,753 in value and in 2008 it hit $20, 841,548.
In terms of volume, Mr Mensah said in 2007, the tuber crop realized 19,716 tonnes and in 2008 it inched up to 20,841 tonnes.
Yam hit 19,485 tonnes in 2010 and in 2011, it increased to 27, 393 tonnes, he added.
Mr Mensah, however, explained that the export value for yam for the period between 2009 and 2011 experienced some decline because of the wholesale market.
He added that the low ends of the market, mainly a few foreign countries, were saturated with yam exported from Ghana.
Mr Mensah said the workshop was to discuss potentials for investment and to roll out strategies for yam development in Ghana and across the globe.
He said the importance of yam consumption could not be overemphasized, adding that, the potential existed for the staple food to be developed into beer (yam beer) and noodles. (Yam noodles, much typical to the Japanese traditional noodles, which are mainly made from buck wheat flour and some wheat flour and yam flour)
The private sector-led strategy for developing yam industry and associated farming systems in Ghana is expected to improve the livelihoods of the farming communities through a market-led approach that holistically considers economic and social issues together with cross-cutting and enabling factors.
It is also expected to result in detailed implementation plans that reflect buyer and producer community priorities at national and sub-regional levels.
The strategy process is said to be a private-public platform for the co-ordination and prioritization of existing efforts and resources.
Its development, co-ordination and implementation are said to be driven by a private-sector led stakeholder coordinating committees.
The committee members are Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ghana Producer and Trader Organisation, Ghana Export Promotion Authority and Ghana Root Crops and Tubers Exporters Union.
The rest are Federation of Association of Ghanaian Exporters, Ghana Standards Authority, Export Development Investment and Agriculture Fund, Bank of Ghana, Ministry of Food and Agriculture and MOTI.