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Ghana losing cash to black spot disease - Orange growers cry

BY: Osei Kuffour
Acres of orange farm attacked by black spot disease in Eastern region
Acres of orange farm attacked by black spot disease in Eastern region

Despite the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led government's crucial interventions to avoid the collapse of the Ghanaian economy as highlighted in the 2023 Budget and Economic Policy statement, huge sums of money are being lost to black spot disease which has attacked acres of orange farms.

The Orange Growers Association (OGA) was instituted a few years ago with the sole objective of assisting farmers with technical knowledge and up-to-date farming techniques to ensure rich yields and direct access to off-takers to purchase quality organic oranges at competitive prices to prevent post-harvest losses. But their oranges are hard-hit by the airborne fungal black spot disease.

"Almost 50% of our oranges here at Aprade are affected by black spot disease. It affects the whole fruit. Since it is airborne it spreads fast and nearby farms are at risk if we don't periodically remedy the situation. Mancozeb and Bendazid are the fungicides we use to fight black spot disease but they are very expensive," farm manager Sam Dokyi lamented.

Sam Dokyi manages 1,500 acres of orange farm belonging to Orange Growers Association (OGA), Eastern regional chapter

According to Mr. Dokyi who manages 1,500 acres of orange farm for the Eastern regional chapter of Orange Growers Association (OGA), the government should see the black spot disease as a "national problem" and urgently help through the Food and Agriculture ministry and other key stakeholders by supporting the orange farmers with "mass spraying" or "subsidise" the cost of fungicides to promote disease-free oranges. This, according to the veteran Agric officer, will contribute to reviving of the troubled Ghanaian economy through agribusiness.

It is refreshing to note that Orange Growers Association (OGA) has partnered Eastfield Foundation's #OrangeWednesday (One Student, One Orange) initiative to ensure that every basic school child enjoys 1 FREE orange every Wednesday on the Ghanaian Education Service academic calendar. And this is a timely initiative that the Education ministry should greatly support. So far five (5) schools; Korkroso D/A Basic School, Adinkrom D/A Basic School, Siawkrom D/A Basic School, Abidjan D/A Kindergarten and Oforikrom D/A Basic School have been adopted for the ongoing #OrangeWednesday (One Student, One Orange) with 1,000 oranges for over 800 beneficiaries every Wednesday. Eastfield Foundation has resolved to continue the partnership with Orange Growers Association (OGA) to reach out to other schools in other parts of Ghana with #OrangeWednesday (One Student, One Orange).

With the government's needed interventions Orange Growers Association (OGA) will be better positioned to contribute not only cash to the Ghanaian economy but also support the well-being of school children as the association's Central, Ashanti and other regional chapters are forthcoming.