Pineapple exports decline, farmers blame high production cost

A good number of the well-known farmers in the pineapple sector are abandoning their vocation due to lack of finance which goes into the purchase of irrigation equipment and fertilizers and other tools needed to sustain their operations.

For instance, managers of Prudent Farms, one of the leaders in pineapple production have gone into yam production where they have made a name.

Director of Projects at the Ghana Exports Promotion Authority, GEPA, Alexander Dadzawa told Goldstreet Business that the situation has affected revenue in that sector.

“A lot of the farmers have shifted away from pineapple. Export revenue has been on the decline in the last five years; we were doing on average about US$20 million of pineapple annually but this has reduced drastically,” he bemoaned.

He blamed the situation on the lack of financing and the change of the variety of pineapple cultivated in the country.

“There was a change in taste on the market so we also had to respond to that change by moving away from smooth cayenne to MD2.  However, the major challenge affecting the pineapple industry now is the cost of production of the MD2 which requires more irrigation and fertilizer.”

Ghana which used to be a leading exporter of pineapple to the European market, producing over 80,000 tons of export volumes annually is now behind Ivory Coast and Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, only a third of this figure is processed locally.

Dadzawa however claims that there is now a growing demand of processing the pineapple locally and that they are reversing to the old variety.

He explained that “we have realized that the Smooth Cayenne can be a good source for the local processors so we are going back to assist farmers to grow more by giving them planting materials. So far more than one million suckers of the old variety have been distributed to the farmers and by 2019 it should be ready for the market. There are a good number of companies that are doing well in value addition, for example, Blue Sky so we are increasing local processing gradually.”

Dadzawa says although the GEPA does not have the capacity to fund the farmers, they are providing other support to avoid collapse of the pineapple sector.

“It is not a funding agency and so our hands are tied because we only give technical support and training. They have to go to the banks where they are refused. So what we are doing is to cushion them by providing them with some inputs such as planting materials,” he added.

Dadzawa believes the ‘one village, one dam’ programme will go a long way to deal with the irrigation challenges affecting the industry.

By Nana Oye Ankrah

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