As the country struggles to explore alternatives to the over-reliance on cocoa production and export, the Forest and Horticultural Crops Research Center of the University of Ghana (FOHCREC) has been rallying farmers around on a common platform for a solution.
The innovative platform has been established to facilitate interactions, and learning among stakeholders in the agricultural sector to form a commodity chain leading to the promotion of agricultural value chain.
The leader of the team and a research fellow of the centre, Godfred Hotsonyame bemoaned the teething problems threatening the survival of the citrus industry.
“Of late, there have been a lot of problems that the citrus farmers have been encountering. It has also been realized that research officer-driven research alone does not solve the problem. The farmers are becoming frustrated by the day. They are simply suffering and bearing the brunt of the system that is failing to work. There is thus the need for total cooperation from farmers to also participate in the ideas and problem-solving platforms to turn things around. It is for this reason that the University of Ghana, in collaboration with ADRA, GIZ and USAID-TIPCEE are collaborating to the development of the citrus industry”, he Dr. Hotsonyame.
Dr. Hotsonyame also noted that “If the citrus farms are well maintained, the country stands to gain, the farmer stands to gain and the economy will be resilient. The bottom line is that the farmers should be at the centre of the platform”, he said.
The coordinator of the platform, Dr. Collinson Francis Brentu told the farmers at the forum held at Assin Fosu, the citrus sub-sector in Ghana has the potential to become a major source of income contributor to the Ghanaian economy.
“Compared to other African economies, Ghana has a number of comparative advantages in citrus. These advantages include political stability, geographic location and access to large regional and European markets; adequate sea ports; good agricultural environment suitable for the cultivation of citrus and different tree crops. In fact, citrus can be grown anywhere in the country with irrigation. The Innovative Platforms are to create awareness of a deadly citrus disease called citrus leaf spot which is nearly wiping out the citrus industry in Ghana”, he stated.
He stressed that despite the positive attributes, citrus farmers continue to experience low yields and poor market access due to increased incidence of pests and diseases.
This platform funded by FARA comprises all stakeholders within the citrus value chain consisting primarily of citrus growers, citrus fruit processing companies, researchers from various government and non-government institutions, policy makers, market women who sell citrus, agro-chemicals input dealers, transporters and harvesters.
source : myjoyonline.com