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Tomato farmers in Wa devastated as their efforts go waste

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Tomato farmers in the Wa Municipality are counting their losses after several crates of produce running into thousands of Ghana-Cedis went bad.

The farmers are unable to get buyers for their perishable produce because of a tomato glut in the region this year. 

Speaking to Radio Ghana at Wa, an official with the Wa Municipal Department of Agriculture, Ismail Saeed said during a routine visit to Piisi, the team of Agricultural Extension Officers saw that large quantities of tomatoes were rotting away on farms, refuse collection points and the markets.

Wa Municipal Agric Officer, Ismail Saeed

When quizzed, the farmers stated that they had to leave the tomatoes to rot because they could not get buyers at the Piisi Market or the Wa Central Market. 

Piisi, Kulkpara, Dapuoha and Logpara are communities known in the Wa Municipality for the huge quantities of tomatoes they produce.

Each year after harvest, the farmers cart their produce to various markets around their communities and to the Wa Central Market for sale.

During this period, a basin of tomato can be sold for between Twenty and Forty Ghana-Cedis, (20 and 40ghc).

During the lean period, the same basin of tomatoes is sold for over 50 Ghana-Cedis. 

According to the Wa Municipal Agricultural Department, farmers could not even sell the basin of tomatoes for Eight Ghana-Cedis (8ghc) because of the glut, leading to the wastage.

An official with the Department, Ismail Saeed said wastage is severe this year because buyers who travel from the Techiman or other parts of Southern Ghana to Wa to buy tomatoes did not do so this year because of the same problem of tomato glut. 

Mr. Saeed said the same wastage is likely to happen to yam farmers this year. “There are periods of the year where the yams are too many in the system [market]. The farmer brings it to the market and is unable to sell. The same throwaway prices will come towards the later part of the market day where the farmer has to go home and yet he cannot go home with the yams so he has to sell it at a throwaway price. As we speak, this is also the glut season for yams”.

He continued to say that “Now, a full bag of yam goes for a hundred (100) Ghana-Cedis. Come to a period between December through to March you can only get about half a bag of that yam costing you close to 400 Ghana- Cedis. Around that same period, December to March you can buy the full set of yams,  which is hundred tubers, depending on the size for over one thousand  (1000) Ghana-Cedis”.

The Agric Officer mentioned Boli, Charingu, Busa, Chansa and Charia as some of the farming areas in the Wa Municipality known for producing yam in huge quantities.

Mr. Saeed called on investors to take advantage of the situation and setup mini processing factories in the Municipalities to process tomatoes saying “these things [tomatoes] could  be canned; simple canning could help prevent this wastage. So if we had a small factory that can it and make it airtight, it could be kept for long”.

Mr. Saeed encouraged farmers to seek the advice of the of extensions officer before going into production. He said farmers should look at the demand of particular produce before going into production.

Story filed by Mark Smith

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