Vegetable farming continues to pose a huge challenge to the people of Sokpoe in the South Tongu District of Volta region taking into consideration on rising population on growth coupled with dwindling natural resources such as land and the stress posed on water resources by climate change. Vegetable production is indeed one of the major options that can significantly contribute to food and nutrition on security with the limited risk associated with the expansion of production land.
Vegetables are known to be essential sources of micronutrients which are critical for reducing the high level of malnutrition. However, these potentials are hindered by high post-harvest losses at various stages of the vegetable value chain. In many surrounding villages around Sokpoe, vegetable production, although widespread, continues to be dominated by women and youth who are the most vulnerable sections of the South Tongu population on. The activity, therefore, is a major contributor to youth employment and a source of stable income for women folk especially women around the water bodies.
Definite actions in addressing post-harvest losses in the vegetable value chain can stem youth migration on as well as reduce the income gap between men and women in the agriculture sector of South Tongu. On the economic front, a substantial amount of our national income is spent on the importation of exotic vegetable products thereby widening the trade balance deficit. The availability of locally produced vegetable products that can compete with exotic ones in our local market (daily, Mini and supermarkets), will positively impact on the balance of payment and improve agriculture contribution to GDP. Issues Currently, substantial all amount of vegetable products are lost through the limited availability of technologies and related infrastructure for post-harvest activities.
This negatively impacts on incomes of vegetable farmers and the pursuit of national food and nutrition on security. Post-harvest losses in the vegetable value chain are associated with the perishable nature of the products and this is made worse by the weak links in the post-harvest value chain itself. Most advocacy for the control of post-harvest losses in the vegetable value chain focuses on the cold chain and its relaxed sophistication.
However, for Sokpoe and its surroundings, proper training and orientation on of actors within the post-harvest value chain (producers, middlemen and women, and retailers) and other related infrastructure are more critical than sophisticated machinery geared towards maintaining the cold chain.
Clearly, the inadequate supply of public goods that is largely provided by the public sector perpetuates the high rate of post-harvest losses in the vegetable value chain. Majority of vegetable producing farms are located in remote areas with poor road infrastructure and inadequate transport network. These conditions are disincentives for effective private sector participation in the vegetable post-harvest value chain thus making the cost of transportation expenses for both producers and marketers of vegetables.
Coupled with these are also limited access to electricity and technical know-how for appropriate technologies to facilitate proper vegetable storage techniques and methods. Realizing the full potentials of the contribution of vegetables in the national economy depends largely on addressing bottlenecks in the post-harvest value chain. However, limited investments in processing and packaging facilities are a major hindrance in improving quality and lengthening shelf lives of vegetables produced in South Tongu and its surrounding villages. These factors coupled with limited marketing outlets are contributing to product glutting and price volatility.
Majority of producers produce the same type of crops, harvest around the same time and target the same markets within the district and outside. Consequently, most of the products are not sold and thereby rendered lost or attract prices that provide no economic incentives for producers.
THESE ARE SOME QUESTIONS POSED TO MR. GEORGE ASAFO; A VEGETABLE FARMER AT SOKPOE ANASUKOFE AND HIS RESPONSES
1. Mr. George; for how long have you be in vegetable production and what motivates you?
Response: For 9years
2. Mr. George; do you have any training in vegetable production on how to handle produce after harvest?
3. What are the source of funding for your production?
Response: From my savings/loan bankers.
4. How best do you try to solve the losses you encounter this season?
Response: I reduced production.
5. Mr. George, how much money have you invested into this production?
Response: Over GHC7000
6. What are some of the challenges as in marketing and the poor nature of your road?
Response: Non-availability of ready market/most local buyers complain about the very bad state of the road hence their inability to buy the produce regularly.
7. Have you tried consulting the District Agric section for the challenges as in how to prolong shelf live for your produce?
Ghana | Atinkaonline.com |Christopher Pappoe