By Joyce Bedeley:
The Ghana Vegetable (GhanaVeg) Programme’s 2nd fruit fair came off at the La palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra between the 13th and 15th of June. The three day event which was held under the theme, ‘Fruits and Vegetables made in Ghana,’ drew together several players in the agric sector, particularly horticulture to common grounds which offered them the opportunity to exhibit, explore and contribute to the horticultural sector.
The Programme, which was introduced by the Dutch government and supported by the Netherlands Embassy, brought together several exhibitors from the vegetable value chain, including input and irrigation equipment suppliers, producers, processers and buyers, to showcase their products and services.
Ghana Veg which is driven by a strong belief in healthy and quality vegetables from Ghana through new ways of doing business, also created the platform for stakeholders to deliberate on how to improve farm management and quality of produce and also promote networking among the players in the sub-sector.
Speaking at the event, H.E Mr. Ron Strikker indicated that ‘the trade delegation exemplifies The Netherlands government’s focus on promoting agriculture through private sector investments, gradually moving from aid to trade. The mission and Trade Fair clearly resonate the motto of Holland and Ghana growing together.’
Deputy Minister of trade and Industry, hon Robert Ahomka Lindsey indicated through his speech disclosed that the country spends about four billion cedis is spent on vegetable import into the country. According to him, the desire for fruits and vegetables Ghanaians which was hitherto low, had assumed a high demand, a situation which has compelled importers to import the products on such magnitude to meet the shortfall, even though all vegetables imported into the country are grown in the country.
This according to him has necessitated the partnership of the Dutch government and some Ghanaian companies to grow more vegetables ‘so that the country can limit the importation of vegetables and this will be done in so many ways including the use of technologies and the introduction of other varieties since this can help feed the country’s industries.’
He believed that the current government’s focus is on creating jobs and making the agric attractive for the youth and the exhibition provided another opportunity for them. The deputy minister however noted that the government is working out all avenues to ensure that the European Union lifts the ban on the export of vegetables by September, 2017.
Miss Sheilla Asibey Yeboah- Deputy Programmes Leader for GhanaVeg on her part expressed delight at the fact that a lot more companies were now taking part in the event which is an improvement over previous events.
According to her, exhibitors which included producers, exporters, processors and value additions all exhibited made in Ghana products. Mrs. Assibey-Yeboah added that though the vegetable sector is wide and still progressing, the sector still needs some improvements since the challenges confronting it are huge.
She identified access to seeds, bad road network, and lack of investment opportunities among others as some of the notable challenges.
She therefore appealed to government to work on all regulations on seeds, fertilizer and it accessibility, and the land tenure system which all pose several challenges to farmers. She also urged government to deal with the invasion of the fall armyworms and other diseases that confront the sector.