Farmers in the Upper East have lost interest in the cultivation of tomatoes while others have shifted to the cultivation of other vegetables because of the shutdown of the Pwalugu tomato factory.
Speaking to Myafricatoday.com’ Albert Sore, the farmers complained that the closure of the factory has contributed to the frequent post-harvest losses they have been suffering.
Samuel Abora, said “as a young farmer in the 80s tomatoes were as precious as cocoa because of the factory which helped in the sale and storing of the tomatoes”
He explained that many people in the surrounding areas also grew tomatoes as the factory will come for the tomatoes right after the harvest.
“When the machines went off and weren’t functioning, tomato buyers stopped purchasing tomatoes from us and went to Burkina to buy tomatoes,” he told Myafricatoday
Mr. Abora decided to cultivate onions which had more market than the tomatoes.
Built by Nkrumah decades ago, the Pwalugu tomato factory provided ready market for tomato farmers and also many indirect jobs for the people of the Upper East Region.
In 2013, the government decided to allocate some money to revamp the factory but nothing substantive has been achieved yet.
Another farmer, Charles Avala also said that “we’re really having difficulties because when we produce we do not get the market to purchase our goods.”
“The existence of the factory did not only help in providing market for the farmers but it increased employment for women who helped in the farms and workers in the factory,” he said.
Mr. Avala also stated that “many of the youth have gone into the cities to make money because of our current predicament.”
He said that the reopening of the factory will help to prevent many of these youth from going into the cities. They will rather join the farming industry or work in the factory.
Hajia Teni Tee who had once worn the award for national best tomato farmer said she quit farming when the factory collapsed because it was no longer lucrative.
“The factory gave me everything from pumps, tractors to fertilizers so I could start farming and the factory bought all my tomatoes after harvest,” she said.
Professor David Miller, former Pro Vice Chancellor for the University for Development Studies (UDS) suggested that the factory should be revamped to deal with multi vegetables and fruits to give variability to the factory.