Pineapple farming, mainly for export, is thriving in parts of the Eastern Region following the supply of more than five million Smooth Cayenne (SC) suckers to 16 farmers by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) in August, 2017.
The farmers, who have so far planted 264.5 acres, include Golden River Side Ltd at Mpakadan, Ohu Farms at Mempemehuasem and Lovely Farms at Nsaakyere near Nsawam, all in the Akuapem South District.
SC is the indigenous Ghanaian pineapple variety with a cylindrical shape and high fruit quality.
It has been widely produced and exported in Ghana since the 1980’s but was abandoned by farmers as a result of a shift in variety to an increasing high demand for the MD2 pineapple variety by importers in the EU in 2005.
GEPA, therefore, launched the initiative to provide 15 million SC suckers to farmers out of which Eastern Region had five million.
Golden River Side Ltd
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Off the Nsawam-Adoagyiri road lies 600 acres of land which belong to the Golden River Side Ltd.
Out of the 600, the company, according to its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Solomon Wiafe Ntow, has planted 200 acres including the SC variety supplied to it by the GEPA last year.
Currently, Golden River Side Ltd established in 2005 exports pineapple varieties, including the MD2, and sugar loaf to Switzerland and France on a weekly basis. It is preparing to begin harvesting of the SC variety this year.
The company received 750,000 SC suckers and planted them on 37.5 acres of land.
“ We plant between five and 10 acres a month because we supply all year round to Switzerland and France between 15-20 tonnes of pineapples every week”, he stated.
Mr Ntow, who also supplies to Blue Skies Ltd, a beverage producing company, also in the Eastern Region, said getting reliable labour or farm hands had been a major challenge aside from the financial and other logistical constraints.
Having entered into the agricultural business immediately after graduating from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Mr Ntow encouraged young people to pursue agriculture as it was rewarding.
He has 30 out-growers and 44 employees.
Ohu Farms was supplied with one million smooth cayenne suckers and according to its Managing Director, Ms Theresa Opoku, the company had already begun harvesting.
We have planned in such a way that planting is done all year round, she stated.
The Farm Manager, Mr Ebenezer Gamati, informed the team that the company would harvest at least 15,000 kg of the SC variety every week until September, this year for export to the Netherlands.
The Ohu Farms has 200 acres of land but has so far cultivated 120.
Ms Poku requested for more of the SC suckers as she had enough land to continue planting.
Lovely Farms which has begun harvesting its SC pineapples for supply to Blue Skies, received 890,000 suckers and planted on a 44.5 acre land.
The owner, Mr Seth Etse-Akpaka, described the work as very good.
“Agric is rewarding if it is done well”, he stated.
Undoubtedly, the poor road condition is a major disincentive to the massive agricultural investment in that part of the Eastern Region.
The challenge is compounded by the rough mountainous terrain.
Mr Etse-Akpaka said the nature of the road made it difficult to cart the farm produce to consumers and appealed to the District Assembly to at least grade it regularly.
Youth in Export
The Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, Ms Afua Asabea Asare, who visited the three farms, could not hide her excitement after seeing the juicy fruits hanging on the suckers.
Accompanied by her Deputy, Mr Samuel Dentu; the Director of Projects, Mr Alex Dadzawa; and the Eastern Regional Director of GEPA, Mr George Adomako, Ms Asare’s visit was to assess the impact of the suckers the GEPA distributed on beneficiary farms.
Ms Asare commended the farmers for their hard work and informed them about the Youth in Export initiative which would be executed with their support.
“ Very soon we will come out with the details of this project. We will bring some of the youth to see these farms and the lands available.
The farmers are ready to mentor them, work with them and give them some space to grow and export their own products “, she stated.
“ I am very impressed with what I have seen here today. It’s highly commendable that you have planted these so beautifully“, she stated.
She pledged that the GEPA would continue to support the farmers and urged them to work closely with the institution to ensure the growth of their businesses and Ghana’s export market.