The Tema Past Award Winners Association of Farmers (Tema PAWA), has appealed to government and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector to construct a tomato cannery in Tema.
The construction of the cannery, the association said, would help process and preserve tomatoes cultivated in the metropolis and noted that currently huge quantities of the produce get rotten during bumper seasons.
Mr William Afutu Bortey, chairman of Tema PAWA, who made the appeal at the association’s special meeting on Tuesday, said some tomato farmers in the area were no longer interested in growing tomatoes and other perishable foodstuffs, due to the lack of a processing facility among other challenges.
The meeting was to affirm the constitution of the association and elect substantive executive members.
The association comprised 50 farmers and fishermen, who have won awards at the district, regional and national levels, and are practising their occupation in Tema.
Dwelling further on the processing facility, Mr Bortey said it would not only encourage more farmers in the metropolis to grow the crop, but to also create more jobs opportunities for the youth.
He further called on government to reduce from 50 to 20 per cent payment required from farmers to procure tractors to enable them to pay.
The chairman described as unfortunate the situation where banks and other financial institutions discriminated against farmers as against other workers such as beneficiary taxi drivers who paid only 20 per cent of the cost of their vehicles.
Mr Bortey added that farmers were also required to provide guarantors before their request for loans was granted, with the excuse that their occupation was seasonal.
He stated that the district offices of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) must be empowered to facilitate farmers’ acquisition of loans and implements as it was not enough for them to give directives only.
The chairman said his outfit aimed at fostering unity among farmers in the metropolis to enhance their chances of obtaining loans without much difficulty.
He further said it was the objective of Tema PAWA to organise programmes to improve farming and fishing activities in the metropolis as well as contribute towards the implementation of the nation’s agricultural policies.
Mr Felix Mishiame, Tema Metropolitan Director of MOFA, said his predecessor initiated the idea of forming the association to ensure continuous communication between award winners and the directorate.
Mr Mishiame indicated that members of the association serve as role models for their colleagues as well as encourage the youth to enter into farming and fishing business.
He, therefore, appealed to all farming and fishing award winners in the metropolis to fully participate in the activities of the association.