It appears that inasmuch as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many economic activities and led to job losses, other sectors of the economy are making gains.
Ghana for instance imports a chunk of its fresh tomatoes from neighboring Burkina Faso, but the closure of borders coupled with low production, has shifted the focus to local tomato farmers at Tuobodom in the Techiman North District of the Bono East Region.
The local farmers have witnessed an exponential increase in demand by buyers who would have usually imported from Burkina Faso.
Ghana loses CFA56 billion, approximately $99.5 million to Burkina Faso through the importation of fresh tomatoes annually. Before the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana, and the subsequent closure of the country’s borders, Burkina Faso was the main destination for fresh tomato importers who neglected tomatoes produced in places like Tuobodom.
But following the continuous closure of the borders, women who travel to Burkina Faso for fresh tomatoes are now patronizing tomatoes from Tuobodom.
Tomato farmers in Tuobodom are happy about the situation, as a box of tomatoes which used to be sold at 20 cedis at the beginning of 2020, is now going for 700 cedis.
Clement Yeboah, a tomato farmer told Citi Business News in an interview that, “They are now buying the tomatoes and market is good. We are calling on government to put in measures that would ensure that they buy from here than going to Burkina Faso.”
Anthony Appiah, a tomato farmer also stated that, “Formerly they used to go to Burkina Faso . But they are now buying from here, and it has helped the farmers.What Government can do is that they should ensure that they buy tomatoes from here, then when the season is over they can go to Burkina Faso.”
The Tomato importers are however calling for an improved variety to be produced by the local farmers to prevent wastage after harvest, as that will help to reduce the importation of the product from Burkina Faso.
A tomato importer from Kumasi, Ama Serwa noted that, “At times it is good, there is a difference between that of Ghana and Burkina Faso. Ghana tomatoes does not last, within three to four days they go bad, but that of Burkina can last for a week. We are calling on the farmers that they should reduce the use of chemicals because with Burkina Faso it is more organic.”
Tricycle riders who cart tomatoes from the farms to town are also delighted about the improved sales. Sadick Adams, one of the riders, said, “Previously things were not going well, but now things are okay. My father bought the tricycle for me. Within a day, I am able to make between GHC100 and GHC200.”
The Secretary of the Federation of Tomato Growers Association of Tuobodom, Kwasi Nyarko, is appealing to government to supply them with quality seeds.
“We have a problem with our seeds, we are therefore looking for help to get seeds that have high quality that would be favourable with the weather. We have delibrated with BUSAC, and it was sponsored by DANIDA, we have gone as far as the Ministry of Agriculture. We have also met with Crop Research so that we can get seeds of high quality that can match with that of Burkina.”