Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, is the condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets both their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
According to a Goldstreet Business newspaper report on July 2017, Ghana imports about $150 million worth of fruit juice each year. The report also indicates that only $40 million worth of juice, representing 28 percent of total domestic demand, is produced in the country, while some local processing companies and factories are said to be operating under 10 percent capacity. Through working with smallholder pineapple farmers, I have realized that the introduction of some standard agricultural practices, such as GLOBALG.A.P and International Featured Standards (IFS), as requirements in the local and international market have caused recent challenges in the Ghanaian fruits and vegetable industry. Most smallholder farmers are not certified and do not meet the requirements of the market. It is expected that producers, and other operators along the value chain, benefit from certification through better market prices or preferential market access for certified produce. However, the process of certification usually comes with considerable costs. This makes it particularly challenging for small-scale producers to obtain certification. Some years ago, exports were a major source of business for the pineapple farmers. Today, most pineapple exporters cannot afford the cost of obtaining the proper certification needed to meet the GLOBALG.A.P standards. Therefore, their pineapple produce is rejected by the European market for not meeting these global regulations, and many exporters are forced to close their businesses.
The Remedy (How I Am Solving It)
To use a market-based, commercial solution in addressing this challenge, my startup company (co-founder, Agroseal Ghana Limited), is involved in the production and marketing of quality, superior vegetables and fruits, such as pineapples, in a convenient manner. I have established outgrower schemes with smallholder pineapple farmers to enhance cooperation and the transfer of knowledge among them. I train and provide technical know-how to boost the production capacity of my farmers. My support team on the field monitors and records the production stages of each farmer to determine the harvesting time of his other perishable produce and also to ensure that the quality of the produce is not compromised. Through the establishment of offtake agreements with juice processing companies, exporters and supermarkets, I am able to provide a reliable and convenient market for my registered smallholder farmers. My registered farmers have a total cultivated land size of 340 acres [137 hectares] and a production capacity of 2,064 tons of pineapples per year.
In order to increase productivity and ensure food security, market accessibility is crucial. Access to markets serves as a source of motivation to small-scale farmers, who produce most of the staples foods in Ghana. I currently market my products through personal contact with a dedicated sales representative for supermarkets, juice processing companies, exporters, restaurants, hotels and catering institutions.
I am very focused on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially 1, 2, 5, 8, 9 and 13 — no poverty; zero hunger; gender equality; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; and climate action, respectively. I also place strong importance on ensuring food safety for my consumers.
Visit agrosealgh.com to learn more.
Contributed by Samuel Avisey, YALI Network Member from Ghana. The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government. YALI Voices is a series of podcasts, videos and blogs contributed by members of the YALI Network.