Editorial: Let’s emulate the Nigerian example in solving our over-reliance on imports

According to statistics, as at October 2022, Ghana imported 90 percent of its fresh tomato from Burkina Faso, with the national consumption demand of tomatoes in excess of 800,000 metric tonnes per annum.

Annual tomato imports from neighbouring Burkina Faso hit a staggering US$400 million from an estimated US$99.5 million in 2018. In recent times, there have been reported cases of shortages of tomatoes on the market.

A citinewsroomonline.com report has quoted the National Tomato Transporters and Sellers Association as attributing the recent shortage in the country to a surge in prices as a result of the ongoing insurgency in neighboring Burkina Faso.

The Queen of the Greater Accra Tomato Transporters and Sellers Association, Otumfor Charity, said Ghana relies heavily on imports to meet its demand for tomatoes, and one of the countries that it relies on is Burkina Faso.

She said the terrorist attacks in the neighbouring country had, therefore, disrupted the supply chain, and traders are only left with the option of smuggling, hence, the surge in prices and the resultant shortage.

She is quoted to have said: “There is, indeed, a shortage of tomatoes, but it is not intentional. In Ghana, from December to May, we do not harvest tomatoes. The tomatoes we consume are from Burkina Faso during this period.

This year there have been ongoing conflicts in Burkina Faso, so entering the country has become increasingly difficult. Every year we go for tomatoes, but the prices don’t increase to this extent. This year has been different.”

The Chronicle finds this development very disturbing. Ghana is a country which is well endowed with mineral resources and rich, fertile soil. We also have rainfall and sunshine which are to enable us cultivate and have good yields.

It is, therefore, surprising that we heavily rely on other countries to import a common commodity like tomato. It is the contention of this paper that after 66 years of independence, this country should not be importing a commodity as common as tomato.

Last month, the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Stephen Yakubu, stated that Ghana would soon stop importing tomatoes from Burkina Faso. He said the region was currently producing 20 to 30 per cent of the country’s tomato demand, but expressed optimism that it would increase to 55 per cent by the end of 2023. The Chronicle has heard this promise over and over again, and we believe it is about time we stopped paying lip service to the abysmal situation.

The Queen said that the tomatoes from Burkina Faso were supposed to supplement what was being produced in the country, but this paper thinks that Ghana can produce tomatoes in abundance and to the extent that it would not have to rely on imports.

Some months ago, reports and videos of Nigeria outdooring huge amounts of rice it had produced were all over social media. We were told that it was possible, because the government took stringent measures to ensure that the country, which has the largest market in the Sub-region, did not rely heavily on the importation of rice.

The Nigeria example tells us that a country may be rich in resources, but if its leaders lack the political will, those resources become a curse, instead of a blessing.

Fortunately for us, the man who helped Nigeria to produce rice in huge quantities, Mr. Abraham Dwuma Odoom, is a Ghanaian.

Mr. Odoom, a former Ghanaian lawmaker, who represented the constituents of Twifo Atti-Morkwa, has gone down in history as the man who helped Nigeria to achieve its success story.

It is our submission that for once, the government should use the power that the people of Ghana has given it to effect a positive change, by engaging the likes of Mr. Odoom and others who can help change the narrative.


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