From Francis Owusu-Ansah, Techiman
A Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Mr. George Oduro, has disclosed the government’s decision to construct mini irrigation systems with solar-powered pumps for constant supply of water to farms.
The Deputy Minister, who made the disclosure when he engaged stakeholders of the tomato farming industry at Tuobodom in the Techiman North District of Brong-Ahafo Region, added that the move is to make the production of fresh tomatoes an all-year round activity.
Tomato traders and some executives of the Ghana National Tomato Traders and Transporters Association (GNTTTA) were part of the engagement.
Mr. Oduro said: “The government, in addition to other measures and initiatives through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), would be constructing the small irrigation systems to make water available to the tomato farmers all year.”
He further said: “Government plans to construct cold room facilities to provide space for the storage of the fresh tomatoes to avoid glut during harvesting period, and to ensure adequate and constant supply to the markets, besides feeding a processing plant to be built in the area under the government’s One District, One Factory programme.”
Mr. Oduro encouraged the farmers to rely on the services of agriculture extension officers of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and apply the best tomato farming practices for improved quality. Ghana has two periods in a year for fresh tomato planting and harvesting – middle of February to June, the major season and early September to mid-November, the minor season.
But, during the greater part of the two seasons, the country experiences either no rainfall or a scanty amount because of climate change, which has affected planting and harvesting. The Chairman of the association, Mr. Baffour Afrifa, mentioned inadequate extension officers to attend to them and traders’ preference for the products of Burkina Faso to those produced locally, as their challenges.