Ghana's pineapple industry is suffering

Ghana’s pineapple production and exports have slumped to their lowest rate in nine years, throwing more than 500,000 people, mostly farmers, out of work.

That's according to local news outlet Graphic, which reports that not only has the situation denied the country the millions of dollars it used to receive in foreign exchange, but also that the economy has lost some fruit processing companies, with the surviving ones struggling to get raw materials to process.

Processing companies such as Blue Skies, HPW, Peelco and Pinora have had to import more than half of their raw materials such as mangoes, pineapples and papaya as they struggle to source them locally, the website reports, adding that other processing companies in Adeiso, Nsawam, Asamankese and Tema have all folded up for the lack of raw materials that make them competitive.

The conditions have been blamed on the lack of financing for cultivation, low quality inputs, especially pineapple suckers, and the age-old challenge of Ghana not adapting quickly to a new variety now preferred in Europe, the MD2, which has been developed by Costa Rica.

An acre of pineapple farm, Graphic reports, requires between GH¢8,000 and GH¢9,000 to cultivate. This has put thousands of farmers out of the industry, even though there is huge market for fresh pineapples and other horticultural produce locally and internationally.

Currently, the country only exports about 35,000 tonnes of pineapple a year, with the number of exporters decreasing from 50 in 2004 to about 15. Employment in the industry has significantly slumped from about 600,000 to about 60,000.

Exports of fresh pineapples reached an all-time high in 2004, topping 71,000 tonnes a year, making Ghana the second largest exporter of the produce after Cote d’Ivoire. These exports raked in approximately US$50 million to private sector exporters.

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