A Facebook post last week, suggested some farmers in Kaziku are distraught over lack of market for their harvested fresh peppers. Kaziku, a farming community in the Kassena Nankana west district in the Upper East Region of Ghana is known for farming fresh pepper.
Together with neighboring villages, locals cultivate over 100 acres of land and could harvest up to 40 to 45 sacks (each weighing around 50kg) on a single acre of land. This would result to harvesting over 4500 sacks of fresh pepper in a season.
Last season the community experienced a bounty harvest and rather unfortunately have had their produce stuck at home. The farmers unhappy with the situation and fearing their produce will soon perish appealed to the public and other stakeholders to come to their aid (as found in the Facebook post).
A 34 year old farmer from the community, Prosper Atolepwa explained to us that they usually sell the harvested produce in its ripe or unripe state to retailers who also sell to traders down south. He said purchase by these retailers have declined over the years with its worst record being this year which also saw very good harvest. He added that retailers also complain of making very less sales.
“Our parents used to farm tomatoes and other vegetables but now there is no market for those. People prefer to buy their tomatoes from Burkina Faso. So we in our time decided to cultivate pepper. I for example have been doing this for over 10 years now” Prosper told us in a phone interview.
Prosper who is also a father of three added that he needed to sell off his produce to be able to take care of his family because farming is his only profession. “This time we have more than enough peppers, the market is the problem now. I for one, have about 70 bags of pepper stuck at home. Because of the bumper harvest we had and the situation at hand, we have reduced the price of a bag of pepper to help sell them faster ”
The original price of 240 Ghana Cedis for a sack of pepper has now been reduced to 170 Ghana Cedis by the Kaziku community to enable them sell their produce.
However, a contact to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) department in the Kassena Nankana west district revealed that there hadn’t been any such report to their office making them unaware of the situation. Doris Nabare, Head of the department who appeared surprised at the revelation quickly sent officers to the ground to investigate the situation for the department to come out with proper briefing.
In her later submission to us, she said though the situation isn’t as severe as it had been made to appear it is still unfortunate. According to her, most farmers have sold their produce and others are still in the process with only a few making no sales. This according to her, is either because they do not appreciate the price offered by retailers or do not have the quality on demand. “Most retailers seek to buy the produce at a certain price and if the farmers do not comply they go away”.
She added that farmers refuse to stagger planting dates per their advice and always end up harvesting at the same time, giving buyers the power to dictate pricing. She also noted some farmers use unhygienic farming practices such as use of unclean well water for irrigation which easily deters buyers.
The Management and Information Systems (MIS) officer of the department, James Kabah also shared that despite their numerous efforts to encourage farmers to form Farmer Based Organisations (FBOs) to have a unified front, farmers still prefer to act individually. He assured that the department will put in extra work to help farmers form effective FBOs to rightfully use better farming practices and also bargain pricing to their advantage.
By: Dennis Baffour-Awuah