Reduction of post harvest losses for enhanced rural farmers’ income: a case of Tomato Farmers of Vea and Tono Irrigated areas of the Upper East Region

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A study was undertaken to look into the reduction of post harvest losses for enhanced rural farmers income in the Tono and Vea irrigated areas of the Kassena-Nankana and Bongo districts respectively of the Upper East Region of Ghana. The study examined four main areas of concern to the subject matter, namely the Farmer and his/her production methods, Service providers providing services of all kind including (financial, transportation and inputs), Farmer organizations and Institutional issues. Fifty respondents of farmers were interviewed, Six Service providers, three Farmer Based Organizations and three institutions namely the Post harvest unit of MOFA (Accra), the regional office of MOFA in the region as well as ICOUR. The study revealed that there are many difficulties that farmers are faced with which hinder production and incomes. Thus it was revealed that the farmers lacked the technical skills to improve their farming practices. The technologies, which are being promoted by extension staff are very expensive to adopt and also highly technical beyond the means and capabilities of farmers. The study also revealed further, that the regularity of visits and technical information delivered by extension staff were highly inadequate. The prices offered for their produce was very low as against the costs of production, prices were also not uniform across the two districts thus there was evidence of price distortions and manipulation in the system. Services, i.e transportation and input services were not regular, far from producing areas, expensive and not located in the Vea irrigated area. Farmer organizations had weak management structures, ill equipped to address farmers’ problems, not involved directly in the sale of members’ produce and a very weak financial base. Their growth was also hampered by non-commitment of members. The study revealed again that institutions had logistical problems including staffing and operational difficulties. There was a weak linkage and partnership between MOFA at the regional level and ICOUR. The participation of the private sector in the production, post harvest management and marketing was low or non-existent in the study area. The measures outlined for post harvest management or reduction was not broad based to include other stakeholders like the traders in their training programmes. On the other hand, policies on post harvest reduction measures do not outline by what percentage of reduction the country is aiming at and within which period to achieve it. The study also revealed that the country’s trade policy on the removal of trade barriers and wholesale importation of tomato from other countries especially fresh tomato from Neighbouring Burkina Faso was seriously hurting tomato farmers in the region. The study therefore has made the following recommendations for policy review including the need for government to recapitalize and revive the tomato factory in the region, strengthen and intensify collaboration between MOFA and ICOUR, strengthen the extension services to provide timely and effective technical information on good agronomic practice, provide incentive packages for producers traders the private sector entrepreneurs to invest in production and processing of tomato and strengthen FBOs to provide efficient services to their members. The study also recommends that technologies, which emphasize less use of external inputs, be promoted.
A Thesis submitted to the Board of School of Graduate Studies, Kwame University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Policy and Planning, 2004