SOME stakeholders in the pineapple sector have appealed for more support to enable the country realise its full potential in pineapple production for local consumption and for exports.
Some of the out-growers and exporters the Graphic Business spoke to enumerated challenges, including unavailability of skilled labour, access to finance, logistics and good climate as some issues hampering their ability to produce at their full capacity.
The Chief Executive Officer of Albe Farms, Mr Albert Amponsah, in an interview on September 23, 2019, said, for instance, that he had a capacity to produce 100 tonnes per week but was not able to do even 10 tonnes due to some of the above challenges.
He said most of the skilled labour in the pineapple production were aging, another phenomenon which impacts the sector negatively.
“Agriculture knowledge and skills such as production and processing increase with age (number of years). So, the accumulated knowledge and skills help to maximise the efficient use of agric inputs,” he said.
Access to medium to long-term finance, he noted, was also a challenge because pineapple could do well within a three-year period, and so, if the funding was short-term it could not do much.
An out-grower at Ekumfi in the Central Region, Mr Kweku Fynn, said mostly, the financing available were expensive because they came at high interest rate and it took longer time to get to them.
“By the time the money comes you have lost the climate to produce which could result in low quality in terms of taste and physical appearance,” he said.
Also, lack of logistics, especially in terms of quality packaging materials, some exporters said, usually led to some produce being crushed by the time they got to the final destination.
“Proper packaging materials and containers minimises the damage and losses of all fresh produce, including pineapples. It is about time we look at the various packaging technologies to be able to maintain quality and extend shelf-life for fresh and processed pineapples,” Mr Fynn said.
Pineapple production in Ghana is mainly concentrated in the Central, Eastern, Greater Accra and Volta regions.
The main varieties available for export is smooth cayenne, MD2, queen Victoria and sugar loaf.
Some of the pineapple farmers and exporters have commended the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), for its initiative to revive the fortunes of the pineapple sub-sector through the distribution of pineapple suckers.
So far, GEPA has handed over a total of 20.2 million pineapple suckers to 14 pineapple exporting companies and over 100 out-growers in the country.
In the 2018 report of the performance of non-traditional exports (NTEs), pineapple recorded a fall of 48.75 per cent in performance in 2018 relative to 2017. Export earnings from pineapple fell from US$18,055,860 in 2017 to US$9,254,194 in 2018.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, Mr Samuel Dentu, in interview on September 16, 2019, at Ekumfi during the presentation of pineapple suckers to exporters and out-growers, explained that the decline in pineapple performance was as a result of most of the pineapple fruits were being processed locally.
“Raw pineapple exports reduced. That is what we want because we want more value to be added. We also recognise there are a lot of people out there who want the raw one so we began this programme to make sure that we enhance the capacity so that even if more are processed we can get more of the raw pineapple to export,” he said.
Mr Dentu said that initially, the suckers were given out free of charge to the farmers, but they realised that it could not be sustained.
“So, now we have gone into an agreement with them where they return part of what we give them so we can do a revolving fund and supply many more,” he said.
He added that they returned between 40-50 per cent of yield.