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Mango farmers worry over black-spot disease

Mango farmers have appealed for an urgent action to help stop the spread of bacterial black-spot (BBS) disease attack on their crops, as it is ravaging farms, killing trees and destroying yet-to-mature fruit.

The disease causes cracks in both the trees and the fruit, resulting in the fruit getting rotten and dropping from the tree prematurely.

The disease is said to be spreading in Kintampo, Techiman, Nkoranza and other mango-growing areas in Brong Ahafo, as well as in the Eastern Region.

About 80 percent of mango plantations in Kintampo and its surrounding communities have come under attack.

Mr. Kwasi Etu-Bonde, Managing Director of Sky-3 Farms at Kintampo, expressed concern about the development at a workshop to discuss access to financing by agribusiness operators and farmers from Ashanti and Brong Ahafo, in Kumasi.

It was organised by Trade Hub and African Partners Network — a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project to promote investment, trade competitiveness and economic growth in West Africa.

Mr. Etu-Bonde, the 2011 National Best Mango Farmer, said the disease is so devastating there is an urgent need for research scientists to get down to business and find a solution.

He warned that if allowed to persist, it will have dire consequences on the nation’s mango production.

Citing a personal experience, he said he could only harvest 37 metric tonnes of fruits from a 15-acre farm, which before the disease attack was producing 120 metric tonnes.

Mr. Etu-Bonde said it is important to have what he described as “commodity and community-based farmer technical support” to provide training for farmers in specific commodities.

This, he said, will ensure that farmers receive practical skills to properly manage their farms.

Ms Pamela Okyere, an expert in the mango value chain working under the project, said farmers in Ghana and two other countries in the sub-region — Burkina-Faso and Senegal, are benefitting from technical and marketing support to raise production and exports.

She said Ghana is emerging as a diversified high-value processed mango producer and exporter to the European Union (EU) countries, and the local market.

Mr. Jeffrey Povolny, Chief of Party (COP) of Trade Hub, said his organisation is engaging financial institutions to get better understanding of agribusiness and develop products tailored to its particular financing needs.

The project is also working with a team of financial advisers to provide advisory services and train small and medium-scale businesses in planning, and how to meet banking requirements.

Source: ghanaweb

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