Postharvest losses in Ghana are not just an agricultural marketing problem; they are a matter of life and death.
In Ghana’s Upper East Region, high rates of suicide are reported among tomato farmers who have lost their crops, their markets, and their livelihoods. Many can’t earn a living, despite the fact that Ghana is the world’s second-largest importer of tomato paste.
Close to 90 percent of the two million people residing in this area cultivate tomatoes, and a high percentage of these farmers are women. Growing tomatoes is more lucrative than rice, maize and yam, and there is an extremely high demand for them. However, farmers face tremendous challenges in getting their products to market and they must compete with imported tomato products.
Ghanaians annually consume an average of 25,000 metric (FAOSTAT 2010) tons of tomato paste, valued at $25 million. Ironically, Ghana produces an average of 350,000 metric tons of tomatoes annually, and could be producing its own tomato paste rather than depending on imports. However, at the height of the harvest season, farmers lose up to 40 percent of their produce due to a lack of processing facilities. This results in severe price fluctuations for tomatoes.
Farmers are dependent on traders known as “tomato queens”—powerful middle women who determine the price of tomatoes. One day while collecting research data, I saw a tomato queen turn away a farmer who was trying to deliver a truck-load of produce to the market she controlled. The farmer wouldn’t accept the low price that the tomato queen was offering for his crop. By the second day of negotiations, she allowed the heat-scorched tomatoes to be off-loaded, and they were sold quite cheaply to the market women—at a big loss for the farmer.
Farmers like this experience high losses due to two main reasons:
First, they lack the technical knowledge and storage facilities needed to preserve their produce. Secondly, there is a lack of factories within the production area to process surplus tomatoes.
John F. Kennedy will be remembered for many things. The lives he touched and the people of all backgrounds he brought together during his tenure in the White House leaves a legacy that will be emulated for ages. JFK represented a young and dynamic America that helped to sustain our leadership and strength among our friends and adversaries worldwide. The good he accomplished, whether it was the formation of the Peace Corps, NASA and the space program, or his deft handling of the Cuban missile crisis preventing a possible nuclear war, far outweighed the failures. But the difficulties he faced were made so much easier by the personal rapport he established with the people of the world, in large part due to his sense of humor.
He possessed a quality that great leaders use to cope with the crises of their era, which is a splendid natural wit and self-deprecating humor.
Take, for example, during the 1960 campaign when pundits and opponents complained about his wealth, he simply replied "I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy. 'Dear Jack, Don't buy a single vote more than is necessary. I'll be damned if I am going to pay for a landslide."
Or when he appointed his brother Bobby to be Attorney General amid calls of nepotism he replied "I see nothing wrong with giving Robert some legal experience as Attorney General before he goes out to practice law." Or when a young boy asked him how he became a war hero, he gracefully responded that "it was absolutely involuntary; they sunk my boat."
Former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill used to say, "In politics if you have a problem or challenge, hang a lantern on it." Kennedy's ability to be warm, self-effacing, and authentic allowed him to hang that lantern, and generate the warm feelings the public still holds for him today that allowed him to confront the difficult challenges he and the country faced during his presidency.
By Esin Mete Ms Esin Mete is the President of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) and the CEO of Toros-Agri.
While the climate talks in Warsaw continue to sideline the world’s one billion farmers from the policy discussions, another UN process – the post-2015 development agenda – offers another opportunity for the agricultural sector to contribute to the future sustainable development challenges ahead of us. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being discussed in this process as the next iteration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are set to expire at the end of 2015, and a New York UN meeting next week (25-27 Nov) will signify the next step in their formulation.
A new infographic by Farming First takes a new creative approach to looking at the post-2015 agenda by fast-forwarding to the year 2030 (when the SDGs are expected to expire) in order to ask the question, “Are we taking the necessary steps NOW to meet the predicted needs we will have in 2030?”
Compiling the most expert global estimates, forecasts and trends, the infographic skips forward in time, to a world in which 543 million people will still be undernourished, global food demand will have risen by 35% and arable land will have decreased by 9%. Crop yields will decrease and prices will rise while agriculture’s demand alone for water will outstrip sustainable, replenishable supply.
A farmer in Gitwa, Rwanda, reads a training at one of the input delivery sites. Training handouts are one of the many tools One Acre Fund uses in the field. Photo by Francoise Umarishavu. Photo courtesy of the One Acre Fund blog. One Acre Fund is an NGO in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania that helps 137,000 smallholder farmers grow their own way out of poverty by providing a "market bundle" that includes education, finance, seed and fertilizer, and market access.
The Chicago Council Senior Fellow and former Executive
Director of the UN World Food Program Catherine Bertini discusses how gender
relates to agriculture, the role of nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life,
and the importance of US investment in agriculture development. Follow
Catherine Bertini on Twitter @C_A_Bertini.
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