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‘You cheat us with pen, we kill you with chemicals; a narration on how Ghanaian farmers grow crops

A US-based Ghanaian exporter, Prince Edward Adu has alleged that some Ghanaian farmers have plotted to use chemicals to grow edible tubers, especially yam, in order to make a fast earning since they are being cheated for being illiterates, ABC News can report. In an exclusive interview with ABC News, the exporter claimed the disclosure was made when a committee of exporters, of which he is a part, met with locally-based farmers to discuss crop growing and exporting.

What necessitated the conversation, according to him was the rate at which some foodstuff they export into the USA gets spoilt before getting to them.

He told ABC News that the laxity in enforcing regulations on the growing and transporting of crops in Ghana is causing them a great loss.

“I’m into imports and exports, I am the head of exporters but not overall in the USA, I handle the people in New York. This work, we think it would have helped us and helped Ghana as well but there are a lot of things we are unable to get to for our work to go on. For instance, the regulations, when things get here, half of them will be spoilt so we run at a loss. The regulations, the means through which the items or foodstuff will come from the farm in Ghana, delays in coming, and also where the food comes from there are problems as well. The food, say yam, the fertilizers they use in planting are too much so they make the foodstuff get spoilt.

“I am part of a committee who speak to the farmers in the whole of Ghana. We’ve spoken to them and they’ve told us that Ghanaians use the pen to cheat them so they’ll also use the fertilizers and chemicals to grow the crops to get their money if you die they don’t care because you don’t think about them. If they use chemicals, within six months it’ll be ready so that he can get his money so whether human beings die or not, they don’t care. In the same way, you people don’t think about them. I know where they are, so when you call me I can prove it” he said.

According to him, their problems do not only lie in the manner in which these crops are grown but also some of the export regulations including the cost and means of packaging and transporting the foodstuff further hinder their success.

“By the time you bring it, the boxes you’ll buy in boxing them are expensive. Also, if you use by ship, it will take from 30-35 days before getting here, some can even take up to 40days so the yam gets spoilt before getting here.  If you use by air, for about 25 boxes of yam, you’ll pay close to $12,000 and that is expensive, when you bring it, you won’t get anything.

“If we had a chartered flight which will bring all our foodstuff by air, it would have been easier but we use passenger flight so the cost is very high. When I bring about a thousand boxes, I have to get at least 900. If I get that much, I will be okay but if I get like 650, 700 boxes, I’ve run at a loss, that means 300 out of 1000 are spoilt. Because the yam that came I bought it, and I bought the boxes too. A single box costs 12gh so if I buy 1000 boxes calculate it, and I dispose of them when I’m done, I can’t use it again. So along the value chain, it’s very expensive. It’s not like that in Kenya. They have built a big warehouse so you take your foodstuff there. They have regulations and machines that make the work cheaper and the boxes are sold at very low prices”

The head of exporters in the interview also indicated that because they have no control over the shipping process, their goods delay in coming and mostly get to them with more than half spoilt.

“Also, because we don’t have control of the ship, they come anytime they like. We don’t have a direct ship which will come here to New York or Europe, all the ships do transit and because our goods are perishable, the longer they stay there, the easier it is for our products to get spoilt. So these are most of the regulations that worry us and we are hoping Government helps us so from the farm to the fork, all the actors in the value chain will play their parts so that it will help us” he added.

When asked if the Government is aware of the happenings, Mr Adu indicated that they have been in talks with the Export Promotion Authority, the Ministry of Trade, as well as Food and Drugs Authority for their help but, have not received any.

“We have been speaking about this to Government but they don’t do anything. If it’s possible, the government should help us so that they will strengthen and work with the regulations, so that the foodstuff will get to us and we will also work and send some of the monies back home. We have spoken to government, Export Promotion Authority, Ministry of Trade, Food and Drugs Authority, the Standards Board, all the regulators are aware as I speak but they always say we’ll work on it but we haven’t seen anything but we can’t get discouraged because that is what feeds us” he noted.

Mr Adu revealed that owing to the rate at which foodstuff gets spoilt on arrival in the USA and other European countries, some Food and Drugs Experts have been sent to the country to investigate the regulations regarding the export of foodstuff, that is, where the tubers are grown and where they are packaged.

Right now what I want the government to understand is that the people here in the US and other European countries want to know where we grow the food and where we pack them. They’ve sent their food and drugs board to inspect them in Ghana, my own association, the Ghana Assorted Food Exporters Association, about three of them who have been sent by the food and drugs board to carry out the inspection, in all of that, we didn’t meet the regulations. They want to see where we grow the foodstuff, where we pack them because if we don’t pack them well, it brings sickness to their country and they don’t want that so that if you bring the foodstuff, they know will inspect the facility it’s coming from whether it is from a good place”

He further appealed to the government to assist them in putting up facilities for them to meet international regulations regarding food growing and exporting.

“We want the government, together with Exim Bank, Exports Promotions Authority and Ministry of Trade to help us to put up facilities in order for us to meet international regulations otherwise, we will lose our jobs. We don’t get anything from the Exim bank so we want to use the opportunity for them to help us to get a good facility”

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