Vegetable farmers in the Tano North and Tano South municipalities of the Ahafo Region have expressed worry over influx of fake, adulterated and harmful agro-chemicals in the municipalities.
They have, therefore, called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the Ghana Standards Authority to intensify monitoring to rid off dealers of the hazardous chemicals.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Bechem, Mr Opoku Afriyie, the Chairman of the Nyamebekyere Co-operatives Vegetable Farming and Marketing Society Limited, a farmer-based organisation, said the situation required urgent attention to make the vegetables good for human consumption.
This is because many vegetable farmers in Techimantia, Derma, Bechem, Duanyaw-Nkwanta and other settler farming communities could not differentiate between the fake and genuine agro-chemicals when they went to the market.
Mr Afriyie indicated the problem was affecting vegetable production in the municipalities as farmers produced low and poor quality yields.
“This situation is adversely affecting the loan repayment of our members and the more than 10,000 vegetable producers within the two municipalities,” he said.
According to him, members of the society were spread across Bono, Ahafo and Bono East Regions and market their produce in Techiman, Bechem, Duayaw-Nkwanta, Kumasi, Goaso, and Sunyani.
Mr Afriyie expressed appreciation to the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund, which provided funding for the society to implement an advocacy project to sanitise vegetable production industry.
The advocacy project is to be implemented within six months at the cost of GH₵70,000.00 aimed at helping to remove all bottlenecks impeding the growth and development of the vegetable production industry.
It is also expected to help improve on the farming efficiency of food production system and increase income levels of all members of the society and expand access to and ensure sustainable and quality agro-chemical supply to famers to increase vegetable production in the area.
Madam Evelyn Bema Darkwa, the Public Relations Officer of the society, called for policy reforms and enforcement of the appropriate regulations to increase vegetable production, quality produce and access to market.
Government must also provide subsidies, price controls and other interventions to help improve production.
She also called for strict enforcement of the Pesticides Control and Management Act, 1996 (Act 528), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act, Act 490 of 1994 to sanitise the industry.
“If issues of standardisation and regulation of agro-chemicals in market are done properly and enforced, then the effects on farmers and public consumers would be positive in both quantity and quality of produce,” Madam Darkwa said.
She called for increased operational budget and funding for the EPA to enable them to properly decentralise nationwide at district levels.