Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Agric Minister
Ghana has begun the export of plantain to Burkina Faso and other countries in the West African sub-region.
The bumper harvest of plantain, the number three food crop in Ghana after yam and cassava, has resulted in the export of the produce from Agogo and its environs to Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire.
The good rains this year have accounted for a good yield of plantain, and especially in the Agogo area the curtailment of the menace of nomadic herdsmen has accounted for the good yield.
The activities of the nomadic herdsmen and their cattle in the past had constrained farmers in the Asante Akyem North District in the Ashanti Region from carrying out their farming activities.
The nomadic herdsmen, mostly armed, terrorised farmers, killed some of them and raped women, while their cattle destroyed the farms in areas such as Asante Akyem, Afram Plains and parts of the Volta Region.
The government’s intervention, by way of intensification of the “Operation Cowleg” and the establishment of ranches in the Afram Plains, resulted in nomadic herdsmen confining their cattle to the fodder banks.
Maame Krobo Road
Besides that, the construction of the 75-kilometre road from Agogo to Maame Krobo in the Afram Plains has encouraged many farmers to go into plantain farming on the plains, instead of the previous practice of farming only in the forest areas.
For instance, the Akyeamehene of Agogo, Nana Boakye Yiadom, told the Daily Graphic that hitherto, farmers were concentrating plantain cultivation in the forest areas, but through the instrumentality of the Omanhene of Agogo, Nana Akuoko Sarpong, who convinced them that plantain farming would be successful on the plains, they decided to give it a try.
That, he said, had opened up the road to the Afram Plains, saying that incidentally, Nana Akuoko Sarpong, personally introduced the Agogo people to the planting of plantain on the plains.
“Originally, they didn’t know that they could grow plantain on the plains. They thought that they could grow plantain only in the forest areas. So Nana Akuoko Sarpong encouraged them and they took up that challenge up,” the Akyeamehene said.
He said the construction of the road had opened the place for farming and it had now become a centre for the production of plantain.
He said Nana Akuoko Sarpong also convinced the people that there was no need to move to Accra, since they could stay at home and concentrate on farming in the area.
The Queenmother of plantain sellers in the Agogo area, Nana Akosua Tawiah, recently won the Asantehene’s Best Woman Entrepreneur award for her entrepreneurship spirit in the plantain business. She has consequently gone ahead to put up a 48-bedroom apartment for the Presby University in Agogo. “Agogo is now a booming town,” Nana Yiadom said.
Farmers in the Agogo area are now excited about the development, compelling them to find new markets for plantain outside Ghana to avoid a glut on the Ghanaian market.
For many years in the past, Ghana imported plantain from Cote d’Ivoire and vegetables from the Sahel Region.
Although Ghana still imports tomatoes and onions from the Sahel region, officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture say moves are underway to end the importation.
Figures are not readily available on the quantity of plantain that has been exported to Burkina Faso, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and other countries so far, but records in Agogo show that seven big trucks of plantain leave the town for Burkina Faso on a weekly basis.
According to a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) survey in 2006, plantain contributed about 13.1 per cent of the agricultural gross domestic product (AGDP) and per capita annual consumption of 101.8kg per head in Ghana.
The plant belongs to the non-traditional sector of the rural economy, where it is used mainly to provide shade for cocoa. It is also an essential component of the diet and generates considerable employment.
Use pix of Minister of Agric, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto