Pineapple exporters and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) are sharply divided over factors that have accounted for the decline in foreign exchange derived from exporting fresh pineapples.
The exporters have maintain that the slump in exports is due to the unavailability of financial support for cultivation, high fertiliser cost, low quality inputs, especially pineapple suckers, due to the change in global demand from smooth cayenne to MD2.
But the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) shares a different opinion. It explains that the consistent drop in foreign exchange from the export of fresh pineapples is attributable to rising agro-processing companies.
Statistics indicate that foreign exchange derived from exporting fresh pineapple has dwindled from US$25 million in 2004 to 17.9 million as of 2014, a shortfall of US$7.1 million.
The situation that has consistently deteriorated for the past 10 years has thrown more than 50,000 people, mostly farmers and exporters, out of job.
Industry value chain actors, however, disagree with the GEPA’s position, stating emphatically that the industry is in crisis, a situation they said had deteriorated over the years to compel agro-processing companies in the country to import about 60 per cent of their raw materials from neighbouring countries before they could operate.
Sector in crisis
The General Manager of Sea-Freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG), Mr Stephen Mintah, revealed in aninterview in Accra that not only has the situation denied Ghana foreign exchange, but some fruit processing companies have also collapsed while the surviving ones are struggling to operate.
Mr Mintah said if robust measures were not implemented to increase the production of pineapple to complement the deficit, the industry might collapse.
“Processing companies such as Blue Skies and HPW have had to import more than half of their raw materials such as pineapple, mangoes, papaya because they struggle to source them locally,” he said.
An acre of pineapple farm requires between GH¢10,000 to GH¢15,000 to cultivate. This has put thousands of farmers out of job, even though there is a huge market for that commodity locally and internationally.
Mr Mintah said if the government would be able to support the pineapple farmers with incentives in the same manner cocoa farmers were supported, the sector would see improvement.