Kpevi sweet potato farmers call for support
Kpevi, a rural community in the Akatsi South Municipality of the Volta Region, is noted for its unmatched experience and bountiful harvests of the sweet potato crop.
This, however, has not brought joy to the farmers over the years.
The huge harvests are often left on the farms to rot due to the lack of a ready market for the produce.
In a desperate bid to attract customers, some of the farmers heap the sweet potatoes along the road from the community to Akatsi, where they also bag the produce.
Some of the farmers can transport their harvests to the Akatsi and Mafi-Kumase markets, where incompassionate middlemen buy them at ‘takeaway’ prices and send them to Accra and other urban centres for good money.
On Sunday, October 15, when the Daily Graphic visited the community, Clement Kpedzegli, 27, and Gakpo Sedzi, 39, were seen busy bagging their harvests by the roadside.
Lack of trust
They said in recent times, some traders in Accra send trucks to their farms to purchase the sweet potatoes on credit, a move which initially was a cause for joy but has now given them sorrow because although the buyers from Accra insisted on paying for the produce after receiving them, they often fail to do so.
“As soon as they receive the supplies, they call to tell us the sweet potatoes had perished, for which reason they would not pay what is due us,” the two farmers said.
It takes about five to six weeks to produce sweet potatoes in heated beds and seven to eight weeks in cold settings.
However, the produce could sometimes perish in a week, and that made it imperative for them to get a ready market for the produce, they told the Daily Graphic.
Sweet potato, produced in white and red varieties, is a major root crop utilised widely across the globe in diverse ways.
It can be processed into various forms for longer durations.
Post-harvest processing of sweet potatoes involves grading and sorting, cleaning, peeling, drying or secondary processing and storage.
The commercial utilisation of sweet potatoes comprises conventional and composite ingredient-based foods, starch, sugar, flour and other industrial products, including animal feed.
The farmers believe they are sitting on gold, which could be mined readily if a factory was established in the area to process the sweet potatoes.
“We can then make money without travelling far, and buyers from Togo would also flock here to buy from us,” they said.
As one drives from Kpevi to Akatsi, the dense green vegetative cover on both sides of the road is fascinating and captivating, with other crops as well, as evident at Gornikope, Tetemale, Sremanu, Wute, Logote-Huive, Adeheta, Worwoenu, Tsiekpi and Asiekpui-Kaleawokope.
The farms are beneath, constantly changing cloud formations which are mesmerising and ideal for tourism promotion. Stopovers for meals along the route can be turned into a lucrative venture.
But for that to materialise, the road from Ziope in the Agotime-Ziope District and Akatsi must be fixed. Some portions of the roads are dreadful beyond description.
The impoverished communities along the road will definitely be transformed into wealthy communities, with a sweet potato processing factory and a good road.