Local mango industry faces collapse as BBS devastates farms

… Farmers lose 92% of produce last season

 Ghana’s mango industry faces imminent collapse within the next two years as the Bacterial Black Spot (BBS) infection continues to devastate the farms nationwide. According to the farmers, if nothing is done to avert the rapidly spreading infection, many farmers will be out of business setting off a chain reaction that will affect the local fruit processing factories, chairman of the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association of Ghana (NFFAWAG) Davies Narh Korboe has said.

Speaking with Goldstreet Business, Chairman Davies Narh Korboe said, in the past harvest season, farmers lost close to 92 percent of mango fruits to the BBS.

“We couldn’t send anything to the buyers, that is, whatever we were supposed to send to processors like Blue Skies, among others was reduced by 92 percent.”

The infection he explained started last season but became a calamity this season, he explained.

Korboe emphasized, saying; “Before the BBS, we had fruit flies, which were really destroying our farms, but I can tell you for a fact that, BBS is more dangerous than fruit flies.”

He explained that, BBS is airborne, and it destroys farms irrespective of the necessary advice they are given, as well as the cultural practices, among other things.

In a related development, an agronomist at Blue Skies Holdings Limited, Ernest Abloh, confirmed that the BBS invasion has compelled the company to import thousands of tonnes of mango fruits to meet its set target for the season.

According to Chairman Korboe, they realized eight years ago that farmers from Ejura, in the Ashanti Region started complaining of BBS then it moved to the northern belt and on to the Brong Ahafo region.

For the past three years, it has been in the Southern Belt, in areas such as Somanya, Dodowa and parts of the Volta Belt.

Korboe noted that, the BBS does not only affect mangoes, as it does affect cashew and teak trees.

He therefore called for government’s support and assistance so that spraying the farms could be done holistically.

Korboe further asked government to pay keen attention to the importation of agro-inputs into the country, since they have noticed some fake products in the markets.

He explained that, “there are certain times when you send these chemical to the laboratory for testing, you realise that the efficacy level is less than nil.”

The more we allow the influx of this fake products, the more it becomes a problem, since these chemicals would in the long-run make the parasite grow resistance to any other chemical applied on them, he added.

Although researchers have been able to find the cause of the BBS, the chemicals being proposed to solve the situation, the copper chemical, is not producing the expected results, he claimed.

However, Korboe noted that, for this reason, they are collaborating with the Environment Protection Agency, EPA; Food and Drugs Authority, FDA; as well as agro-input dealers to find a lasting solution to the problem.

By Joshua W. Amlanu