Ghana Loses Five Million Dollars On Onion Importation

About five million dollars is lost annually from the importation of onions from Niger and Burkina Faso to Ghana, which can be produced locally. This was disclosed by Mr Haruna Ageshika, Secretary General of the Ghana Agricultural Producers and Traders Organisation (GAPTO) in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra, on Wednesday. He said conditions abound in the country for large scale production of onion, both for local consumption and export. He said data collected by the Organisation in a project supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Agriculture Business and Trade Promotion in West Africa (ATP) in two markets in Accra and Kumasi showed that Ghana imported about 120 million dollars worth of the produce in 2010 and 2011, which was about 65 % of onion importation into the country. Mr. Ageshika said under the USAID/ATP project GAPTO also gathered data on livestock and maize importation into the country. He said the organisation in collaboration with the Trade Investment Programme for Competitive Export Economy (TIPCEE); another USAID funded project, conducted a study into the cultivation of onions in the country in 2008 and 2009 and identified the Northern Region among other areas as suitable for large scale onion farming. The GAPTO Secretary General said following the study, TIPCEE supported GAPTO financially and technically for a pilot large scale onion cultivation with what he called “promising yields”, but could not be sustained for lack of funding. Mr Ageshika said GAPTO is being supported by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC) for an advocacy initiative to get the Government and other interested institutions to establish an Onion Farmers Support Fund to promote the commercial cultivation of onion in the country. He said under the initiative, it is envisaged that stakeholders would build consensus and develop a legal framework and roadmap to formulate policy for an Onion Farmers Support Fund to assist Onion farmers to expand their capacity for commercial production. The GAPTO Secretary General noted such an initiative could save the country some foreign exchange, create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth and eliminate the rural-urban migration, especially from the northern parts of the country to the south. It would also help equip the youth with skills which would enable them to earn an income, promote rural development and help raise living standards in those areas. Mr Ageshika expressed the readiness of GAPTO to help local onion producers to market their produce and disclosed that the Organisation was preparing a proposal for government to promote onion production in the country, as a way of equipping the youth with employable skill.