Ghana is ranked 93rd in the world in imports. Statistics indicate that Ghana spends over US$100 million on the importation of vegetables annually. The vegetables imported are mostly tomatoes and onions from neighbouring countries. This compelled Ardhi Investment Group with support from HortiFresh to construct a greenhouse project to produce quality and healthy vegetables for the local market to help reduce vegetable importation.
At the opening of the greenhouse project, under the theme; ‘21st Century practices for maximizing your yield’, at Akuse in the Eastern Region, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Ardhi Investment Group, Mr. Akofa Ata commended the enormous support from the Dutch government to Ghana’s Horticultural sector.
Speaking at the opening, Mr. Akofa Ata identified the biggest challenge in greenhouse projects and horticulture as the capability or support for agronomy. According to him, capability for agronomy does not exist in the country and that impels for a consultancy from other countries. He bemoaned that three (3) months of training is not enough for agronomic practice for someone to manage a greenhouse.
The despondency is, Ghana has better climatic conditions and arable lands for vegetable production than most of the neighbouring countries yet farmers are unable to produce the required vegetables needed to feed the local market let alone for processing and international market.
“We are unable to produce enough and that really is disturbing as a country. Due to inadequate agronomical knowledge, Ghanaian farmers are unable to produce enough vegetables to feed the populace let alone produce for the factories for processing and the international market”, he cried out.
He encouraged the stakeholders to continue supporting the horticultural sub-sector in order to locally produce vegetables to hew fractional importation of about eighty thousand (80,000) tones of vegetable importation to the country.
In an open remark read on behalf of the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in charge of horticulture, Madam Esther Agyekum, commended Ardhi Investment Group and HortiFresh for such amazeballs initiative to work towards addressing the issues of productivity and environmental sustainability that confront the horticulture sector.
She said, government, in its quest to revamp both local and international market for vegetables has expedited policies to support the Greenhouse project for the Ghanaian vegetable sector a new concept of greenhouse villages has been introduced to establish strong agribusiness in the vegetable sector to attract both Ghanaian youth and international investors. As a result of this, the government has sent the second batch of about seventy-one (71) students to start greenhouse training in Israel. This programme is giving the students hands-on practical training in greenhouse farming practices.
Vegetable production under protected conditions, she said remains a vital role in the horticulture industry. According to her, to achieve and sustain the momentum of growth and importance of greenhouse vegetables in enhancing productivity, quality, and market access both local and international levels, meeting the demand for fresh and clean vegetables year-round cannot be overemphasized.
The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Ron Strikker, lauded Ardhi Farms for such a great initiative. He eulogized the government for creating a favourable environment for agribusiness especially in the horticulture sector both for domestic and foreign investors.
“Ghana’s growing middle class and urbanization offer companies good opportunities to invest in the production of quality vegetables, today I am very proud to see the Dutch-Ghanaian greenhouse in production,” he said.
The ambassador expressed his excitement for Dutch-Ghanaian cooperation in transforming and scaling up greenhouse projects to different levels to promote food security and cut off the importation of vegetables in Ghana. “This year is to promote investment in greenhouse vegetable production, reduce huge and persistent importation of vegetables, as well as creating employment in the economy”, he told Agric Today News.
The Greenhouse open day was supported by HortiFresh, a programme designed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the aim of prioritizing commercial agriculture as its strategic plan of moving from aid to trade. The mission is to establish a sustainable and internationally competitive fruit and vegetable sector that contributes to inclusive economic growth, food and nutrient security in Ghana and Ivory Coast.