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VEPAG Calls On Government to Assist Them with Soft Loans to Revive Businesses

Members of the Vegetable Exporters and Producers Association of Ghana, VEPAG are calling on the government to assist them with soft loans to revive their business. The demand, according to them, hinges on losses they occurred during the ban placed on vegetable exports to the European Union.

As from 1st January 2018, Ghanaian farmers will be able to resume exports of all plant commodities to the European Union (EU) market.

This follows the European Commission’s decision to lift the current ban on the exports of five plant commodities from Ghana to the European Union (EU) market on 31st October 2017, according to a statement from the EU.

The five Ghanaian plants (chilli pepper, bottle gourds, luffa gourds, bitter gourds and eggplants) will from 1 January 2018, have duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market like any other product from Ghana.

The president of the association, Mr. Joseph Tonto speaking in an interview with Rite News indicated that members of the association have been adversely affected after the ban on vegetable produce to European countries.

“Members of the association have been at home for the past three years without working after we took loans from banks to invest into our farms thinking we will reap something good from our exports. Unfortunately, this did not yield the resultant profits due to the ban” he lamented.

“We have lost our capitals we pushed into the vegetable farming. Our children are at home and we are not able to pay their fees,” he added.

Mr. Tontoh said vegetable farmers from the Volta, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra regions and other parts of the country are all sharing in the relief of the lift on the export of vegetable products to the European Union and pleaded with the government to aid them raise money to revive their farms since they are on the ground.

He said though they received the news with excitement, they were still thinking about how to start their farming business again.

The VEPAG president also regretted that financial institutions were not willing to assist farmers as they always thought of farming as a risky venture which can’t be invested into.

He later stated that stakeholders who involved themselves to bring this success story sacrificed a lot to see the ban lifted and they can also do the same to draw the attention of the government to come to their aid.

Mr. Tontoh noted that the situation has created unemployment in the country and pleaded on authorities to help the farmers to revamp their businesses.

Ghana has lost about US$30 million in revenue as a result of the ban on vegetable exports into the European Union (EU).

The amount was lost between the period 2014 and 2017 when the country was found to be non-compliant with the EU standards on the export of vegetables.

 

However, in its quest to reverse the ban, the government put in place the requisite measures in anticipation of a team from the Food and Veterinary Office of the EU that assessed the quality of Ghana’s vegetables which resulted in the lift of the ban.

Source: Austin Ofori Addo/ritefmonline.org/austinofori.addo@gmail.com

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