Mr Paul Ainoo, Chairman of the Cape Coast Farmers Cooperative Society limited (CCFCSL), has appealed to government to put in place a policy framework for the establishment of an institution, which would be responsible for the development and promotion of citrus and lime sector to prevent the sector from a total collapse.
He said due to the lack of a vibrant market and a body to manage the sector, most citrus and lime farmers have either cut down their citrus trees or have altogether deserted citrus farming for other means of livelihood whilst others were contemplating abandoning citrus farming for other ventures.
Mr Ainoo, who said this during a sensitization programme organised by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC) in Cape Coast on Tuesday, said citrus farmers who were over 10,000 across the country and mostly smallholders, faced a lot of challenges regardless of being one of the largest fruit industries in Ghana.
He said in the Central Region, citrus and lime were mostly cultivated in areas such as Cape Coast, Abura-Asebu-kwamankese, Mfantseman districts, Effutu-Koforidua, Brabedze, Nyinassin and Effutu, Nsaadze and Asebu. But he added that now it was very difficult to get ready market, which had frustrated many of the farmers.
The Regional Chairman lamented that citrus farmers despite the fact that they could not get interested buyers to buy the produce, they still had to engage the services of paid farm hands to pluck the oranges, gather and dump them at the edges of the farms only for them to rot.
Mr Ainoo in this regard called on the government and stakeholders in the industry for the creation of “A citrus Board” to streamline all citrus farming activities, adding that a board would improve upon the negotiation power of citrus farmers.
He said the Board would primarily be concerned with the production, harvesting, packaging, processing and marketing of all citrus varieties in the country.
Again, he said, the board would also use its endeavour to promote the best interest of the citrus industry and the orderly marketing of citrus fruits as well as improve the competitiveness of the citrus industry.
Mr Ainoo said, in addition, the board would have positive impact on the standard of living of the farmers, boost the local economy, generate employment and contribute to poverty alleviation in the Region as well as to foreign exchange earnings.
Mr Ato Van-Ess, a trainer with the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC Fund) said the Fund would continue to give citrus farmers the requisite advocacy training to enable them address gaps in accessing citrus market.
He said the workshop was to create awareness about the importance of citrus and lime industry to the economy in Ghana, highlight the plight of farmers and the challenges they face, adding that it was also to stimulate stakeholder interest in the citrus and lime sub sectors as well as push for a policy framework for the establishment of a citrus board.
Mr Van-Ess called for the establishment of a processing plant, upgrading of farming practices as well as dealing directly with final users of the produce instead of using middle men and market queens, who only worsen the plight of the farmers by buying fruits at throw away prices.
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