|The low productivity in the pineapple sector has cost Ghana to drop in export market share on the international market from 10 per cent in 2004 to three per cent in 2014.The deficit in the pineapple industry that is presently averaging around 40 per cent is due to the non-availability of financial support for cultivation, high fertiliser cost, low quality inputs, especially pineapple suckers due to the change in global demand from smooth cayenne to MD2.
The General Manager (GM) of Sea-Freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG), Mr Stephen Mintah, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in Accra that the situation has thrown about thousands of people, mostly farmers and exporters out of job.
“Ghana’s pineapple industry production and exports have totally slumped to the lowest, over a decade throwing more than 500,000 people, mostly farmers and exports out of job,” he said.
Presently, Ghana is only exporting about 33,600 metric tonnes a year with exporting companies reducing from 50 in 2004, to about seven firms this year. Employment has also slumped significantly.
Mr Mintah said not only had the situation denied Ghana the millions it used to receive in foreign exchange, the economy had lost some fruit processing companies and the surviving ones were struggling to operate.
He said the situation had prevented the companies from honouring their financial obligations which was never a problem during the era of the production of the smooth cayenne.
He noted that if robust measures were not implemented to increase production of pineapple to reduce the deficit, the industry might collapse.
According to him, to revamp the pineapple industry, the government must adopt a strategy to promote MD2 production to increase productivity for exports and for local processing.
Explaining further, he said, the government must also encourage the production of smooth cayenne for local processing companies in the country in order to compliment the deficit in the industry.
“If the sector will be able to move to its previous status, policy makers need to understand and appreciate the current circumstance of the industry in order to strategise,” he said.
Meanwhile, the diversification of the country’s economy in the early 1990s saw an improvement in the generation of foreign change derived from non traditional sources, including the pineapple industry.
This industry’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) cannot be underestimated, with creation of jobs high among the list of benefits derived from the sector.
However, the last two decades has seen a dwindling of foreign exchange from the sector from US$ 25 million in 2004 to US$ 17.9 million as of 2014, a shortfall of US$ 7.1 million.