The tomato industry in northern Ghana: Production constraints and strategies to improve competitiveness.
AbstractMarket-oriented agricultural development is a way to empower smallholder farmers in developing countries who are increasingly getting involved in commodity value chains. The position of smallholder farmers in commodity value chains can be improved by enhancing their distinctive competencies. Entrepreneurs in the northern Ghana tomato industry are taking advantage of recent government policies to promote agribusiness. The competitiveness of the industry is assessed in this paper and possible pathways to empower smallholder farmers to grow from supply chain actors
into value chain integrators and possibly co-owners of the tomato value chain is discussed. A three-day Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) was conducted at Vea among the 2856 inhabitants living in 625 houses in 2004. The farming systems and market opportunities of tomato growing communities situated on an irrigation site were studied. The staff of the Irrigation Company of Upper Region (ICOUR) Limited who manages the irrigation site was also engaged in the focus group discussions during the PRA. Tomato production, despite being capital intensive was the main
enterprise of the communities situated on the Vea irrigable lands. This typifies the other irrigation sites in northern Ghana. The root causes of the reduced levels of capital investment in tomato production were found to be the non-observance of right production techniques and absence of processing facilities in the proximity of the irrigation project. The northern Ghana tomato industry now has the potential to become competitive, and develop into a network of value chains after the former Pwalugu Tomato Factory, closed in 1990 was re-opened in 2007 under new management and a new name – Northern Star Tomato Company. This anticipated
competitiveness of the revamped tomato industry in the northern part of the country was analyzed based on the Porter’s Diamond and the typologies of value chains were proposed. Building competencies of farmers or their organizations to enable them to play greater roles in chain management is recommended. It is also of the view that development workers should get farmers engaged in a few more chain activities that
can enhance their position in the tomato chain to improve their livelihood. The content of the Farmer Field School concept for technology transfer could be improved to enhance the business skills of farmers and entire rural communities. This may diversify their activities into related enterprises upstream and downstream of the predominant primary production.
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