Vegetable industry worth US$25m per annum

The economy can earn over US$25 million in a year from vegetable exports.

This can be achieved if the government and other relevant state institutions support players in the sector increase production, improve product quality and meet external market requirements, a report by GhanaVeg, a non-governmental organisation committed to the success of the industry, has stated.

The support is needed to increase annual output of the crops whose demand is on the rise in Europe and Asia where climatic conditions make it unfavourable for year-round cultivation, the report, which was presented to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, noted.

The Chairman of the GhanaVeg Advisory Board, Mr Samuel Asante-Mensah, said in an interview after the launch that, although the government and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) had realised the export potential of the vegetable industry, efforts geared at realising that potential were not comprehensive enough.

He consequently called for increased resource allocation and technical support to farmers, also those in the value chain and exporters as a whole.

“Vegetable crops are high-value crops. You need only a small area of land to grow crops that will fetch so much money compared to growing say cereal or legume crops. It is one of the areas that a lot more efforts should be put into,” Mr Asante-Mensah, who doubles as the President of the Ghana Institute of Horticulturists (GIH), told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS.

He was speaking to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS after the launch of the Vegetable Business Opportunities Report in Accra on December 3.

The report was launched on the sidelines of the trade show on agro-food, plastic, printing and packaging at the Accra International Conference Center (AICC).

The show was the second of its kind and brought together businesses and stakeholders in the agriculture, beverage and hospitality and the plastics, printing and packaging sub sectors of the economy.

It was organised by Fair Trade International in partnership with the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce (AHK) and Advantage Austria aimed at creating a common platform for businesses to showcase their wares to the general public while giving stakeholders the opportunity to deliberate on challenges and the way forward.

Drop in vegetable export earnings

The annual potential of the vegetable industry as found by the GhanaVeg report is way above the US$3 million that the country currently earns from the sector.

Data from the GEPA, which regulates the non-traditional export market, showed that a total of US$2.6 million was grossed from exports of these crops to Europe and Asia markets.

Annual export earnings from vegetables, which include peppers, green chillies, tomatoes and Asian vegetables, among others, were valued at US$10 million in the early 2000s but dropped to some US$3 million in 2013 due to challenges with quality, certification and falling production outputs across the country, the Team Leader of the GhanaVeg Project, Mr Joep van den Broek, said in a separate interview.

“Ghana is not doing too well currently, but what we found is that Ghana actually has an advantage over its competitors in East Africa and South America because of weather, proximity and the quality of the crops,” he said.

Earlier this year, GhanaVeg, which has been operating for over a year, reported that importation of onions was costing the country some US$85 million a year and, thus, called for increased investments to help plug the deficit.

source : Graphic Online