There has been a sustained increase in agricultural production in the Upper East region in recent times, hence, the need to focus on creating stronger and sustainable marketing avenues for improved incomes.
It is against this backdrop that, the Ministry of food and Agriculture in the region has organised a meeting to create a Regional Agribusiness Partnership platform for enhanced market linkages for agricultural commodities.
Over the years, the Upper East Region relies on local markets within, with very few from Techiman, Kumasi and Accra, which are usually manned by market ‘queens’ and other private entities.
The effect of this resulted in the glut experienced by rice farmers in some parts of the region in the early part of 2020.
Speaking on the theme ‘Facilitating Sustainable Markets For Agricultural Commodities’ in the Upper East Region using the Regional Agriculture Business Partnership (RABP) APPROACH, the Regional Director of the Ministry of food and agriculture, Francis Ennor, called on farmers to conduct need assessment of consumers before going into production.
He observed that most processing companies prefer to source their raw materials from neighbouring countries owing to the fact that local producers are not able to meet their specifications in terms of quality and quantity.
The Regional Director noted that value chain and agribusiness development is one key area of focus by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture hence the various Departments of Agriculture not only focus on increasing production and productivity but more importantly initiate activities that will enhance the marketing of agricultural commodities.
Mr Ennor noted that the importance of market linkages and its implication for development in the Upper East region cannot be understated.
As such Regional and district agribusiness and commodity fair to be instituted and organized annually for partners to meet quarterly to coordinate and review activities to improve operations as well as build farmers’ capacities to produce quality and standard commodities.
He implored farmers to acknowledge their interdependence on other stakeholders including input suppliers and consumers.
The Regional Director for National Food Buffer Stock Company, Abdulai Mohammed disclosed that, cumulatively, a surplus of 84,992 tons of maize, rice and soya bean were created in the Region for the 2019 production season and the region has a total of 60 warehouses with a total capacity of 23,250 tons.
He observed the availability of warehouses for storage of commodities present a great potential for aggregators, buyers, and processors to mob produce at desired quantities and space. He indicated that the company supplies food to other Public institutions such as prisons and hospitals adding they have trained private sector operatives such as school feeding contractors, market “queens”, private catering services, and restaurants and supermarkets.
He stated that the major setbacks to agricultural commodities value creation in the region include poor packaging and labeling of agricultural commodities, inability of vegetable producers to enter into the export market, and inadequate processing centers to add value to crops, particularly vegetables.
Inadequate formal contracts between producers and buyers create weak linkages among actors in the agriculture value chain in addition to the lack of standards in the marketing of agricultural commodities such as Crops and Livestock.
On the Senior High School Feeding Programme in the Region, Mr. Mohammed indicated that the National Food Buffer Stock Company covers 100 percent food supply.
Story filed by Emmanuel Akayeti.