1D1F: Northeastern watermelon growers worried about losses as factory remains unfinished
It’s another season for the watermelon harvest in parts of the Northeast region, and some farmers are already worried about post-harvest losses, largely due to the lack of a market for the produce.
There are nearly a thousand farmers engaged in the annual production of watermelon in the region. But production always exceeds demand, resulting in glut during peak seasons.
Melons rot every season and farmers lose their investments.
In an effort to solve this perennial problem, the government began construction of a melon harvesting plant in late 2019.
The financiers, Ghana Exim Bank, have committed to complete the project within 9 months of the start. But this deadline has passed for the second time, because the factory is not yet finished.
During a visit to Citi News to interact with some watermelon growing communities in the Northeast region, Walewale farmer Amidu Salifu said his melon was ready, but there was no buyers.
According to him, before the season, the agents of the municipal agricultural service grouped them together with the assurance that the product will now be absorbed by the plant, which will be completed before the harvest season.
“We have been informed that the factory will be absorbing the produce this year, so we have grown a lot of melons, and now they are about to waste because there are no buyers. As we speak, it is harvest time and the plant is not yet ready. There is no doubt that we will record losses again this year, ”complained Amidu Salifu.
Much like Amidu Salifu, many farmers were motivated to grow melon this year because of the assurance that the factory was ready to buy from them.
“We were made to form groups, so that our activities could be followed. They said the factory would only buy quality melons. This has motivated many of us to cultivate this year. But now it looks like we will be disappointed again because the factory is not ready and there is no cheap either, ”added Amidu Salifu.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia inaugurated the construction of the melon factory in December 2019.
The plant is part of the government’s flagship project; The One District, One Factory. Exim Bank finances its construction.
The plant was to be delivered within a year of cutting the grass. But two years later, it’s not over yet.
The president visited the plant in June 2021 to inspect the progress of the work. Processing equipment has been installed, but it is not ready to receive the farmers’ products.
As the farmers relentlessly await the completion of the factory, Amidu Salifu and his fellow farmers have only one plea.
“Our puzzle right now is how to secure the melon market, because we have incurred a lot of costs for the cultivation. We are simply asking stakeholders to help us so that we no longer experience what we experience every year. “