The threat by the three Sahelian countries – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – to pull out of Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) has sent shivers down the spine of Ghanaian traders and the country as a whole.
For the records, Ghana imports some of its agricultural products, mostly tomatoes and onions from Burkina Faso and Niger. The Ghanaian traders, who are mostly women, rely heavily on ECOWAS protocols that allow free movement of goods across member countries.
Should these Sahelian countries carry out their threat and pull out of ECOWAS, these protocols will no more be there, and these are the fears of our traders. Already, unconfirmed report indicates that Burkina Faso has vowed to review the exportation of tomatoes to Ghana if they finally pull out of ECOWAS.
This is what has even exacerbated the situation because the traders fear their businesses will collapse if impediments are put in place to frustrate them from importing the agricultural products from our northern neighbours. To these traders, therefore, the government of Ghana must step in to ensure that Burkina Faso and Niger do not leave ECOWAS.
Much as The Chronicle sympathises with these traders, we think the situation can be a good omen in disguise for Ghana. In the first place, the decision to leave ECOWAS, in our opinion, is a bad one by Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, but they have the right as sovereign states to take their destinies into their own hands.
It is important to note that these three Sahelian countries are the poorest among the ECOWAS member countries. They have a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $53billion, which is even lower than that of Ghana’s $77.59 billion. Apart from this, these countries are also land locked and, therefore, import their goods through the seaports of other ECOWAS member countries.
One will, therefore, wonder what will happen should ECOWAS also decide to block them from using the seaports of their member countries. Unfortunately, we can’t continue with this discussion as it is not our main focus for today.
As we earlier indicated, the development in the Sahelian region can be a good omen for us here in Ghana – because it will afford us the opportunity to develop the agricultural sector. Ghana has lands that are rich in nutrients than that of Niger and Burkina Faso, yet they are producing tomatoes and onions in large quantities than us.
What the government of Ghana must do now is to strategise and come out with ideas on how we can also produce the same varieties of onions and tomatoes that these two countries are producing.
The Chronicle believes that if farmers at Akomadan and Derma – who produce the bulk of tomatoes we consume in Ghana are supported, they can grow the same varieties in commercial quantities.
Our women are going to Burkina Faso to import tomatoes and Niger for onions because of the kind of varieties they grow there. Now if the same varieties are being grown in Ghana, why should we be worried over the decision of these nations to leave ECOWAS?
Instead of entertaining fears over the possible implication of these countries leaving ECOWAS, we must rather put our shoulders to the wheel and turn the situation in our favour. The hard currencies we are putting in the pockets of Niger and Burkina Faso farmers should be channelled into that of the Ghanaian farmer to support our national economy.