Ghanaian pineapple exporters seek GH¢60m government support

pineapplesThe Sea-Freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG), a group of fresh pineapple producers, is seeking GH¢60 million support from government to enable members expand production and to scale competition in the supply of the produce into Europe and other markets.

Mr Kwabena Afari, Vice Chairman SPEG, who disclosed this on the sidelines of the ongoing 82nd IZMIR International Fair in Turkey, said the financial intervention was necessary to save the industry from collapse.

“We have submitted a proposal on the need for support to the Minister of Trade and we are hoping government will look at it to take the necessary action to save the industry from collapse,” he said.

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) is facilitating the participation of 12 Ghanaian exhibitors in the fair, which is running from 29 August to 2 September.

The participating companies include pharmaceuticals, food and beverages and cosmetics

Mr Afari said the shift from the production of the smooth cayenne pineapple variety to MD2 had increased the cost of production to almost three times, making it difficult for some members to cope.

The shift also led to a drop in production levels from 70,000 tonnes for the smooth cayenne to 30,000 tonnes for the MD2 while employment also fell to 3,000 from a high of 10,000.

Mr Afari said the high financing cost had also led to the folding up of some farms reducing the number of active members to 11 from a high of 40.

SPEG members currently submit most of their products to the European market, especially the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Switzerland.

Mr Afari said the shift to the production of MD2 was necessitated by the market demand, which had virtually eroded the market share of smooth cayenne to a mere 2 per cent.

He said to improve the production base it would require capital injection hence the appeal to government for support.

He expressed the hope that with the assistance either in the form of a grant or loan, members would be able to expand production to 100,000 tonnes in the next five years.

On freight charges, Mr Afari said produce of members were not competitive because of high charges.

He said while producers in Ghana paid $285 as freight for a pallet of 75 boxes, countries in South and Central America such as Costa Rica paid $185 for the export of the same quantity.

“Unless we are able to increase production and get the volumes for the vessels to reduce their freight levels, we will not be able to compete with other producers,” Mr Afari said.

On the fair, he said, while people in Turkey had expressed interest, the biggest challenge was the freight since there was no direct vessel from Ghana to any port in Turkey.

He said while transportation by air would have been the best, freight charges were very expensive at $1.35 per kilogramme.

Mr Afari said SPEG was meeting with major carriers such as Ethiopian, Turkish and Emirates Airlines to help cut down on the charges.

SPEG assists members in maintaining common quality standards, attaining certification and providing shipping arrangements.

Source: GNA

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