Ghana and India are collaborating under a Pilot Research Project on Tomato Production, which would ensure that there is an abundance production and supply of the crop in the country all year through.

The project which seeks to pilot tomato production technologies in three ecological zones Ada, Kumasi and Navrongo is also aimed at producing more pest resistant, high yielding tomato that would last for many days on the shelf.

Implementation of the Tomato Partnership agreement was signed between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ghana and the National Research Development Co-operation (NRDC) of India.

The three-year piloting of the project had ended and so the two institutions held an end of project ceremony in Accra, marking the beginning of technology transfer to Ghana.

At the ceremony, officials of the Crop Research Institute of CSIR, Ghana and the NRDC of the Indian, main implementers of the pilot project, expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the project, saying, when it is fully implemented in all tomato growing areas of the country, it would cut down on imports of tomato from neighbouring countries.

Mrs Stella Ama Ennin, Director of Crop Research Institute–CSIR, said the closing ceremony marks the beginning of taking the findings through a varietal release process by the National Varietal Release Committee to enable a full role up of the programme in the tomato growing community.

She said the finding helped found solution to the tomato yellow leaf curl virus that plague most tomato plants and thereby causing low yields, and also a more resistance seed had been produced to be released to the farmers after being certified through the varietal process.

She said as part of the pilot project, farmers and extension officers were trained on best farming practices, and other irrigation programmes. She said by the end of 2018, all tomato farmers in the communities would have access to the tomato seed for production.

Professor Victor Kwame Agyeman, Director General of CSIR said any intervention or technology that aimed at improving agricultural productivity and enhancing food security and improving the lots of poor smallholder farmers could not be underestimated.

He therefore, commended India for the partnership that would help improve the production of tomato in Ghana, boosting food security, as well as end importation.

“We cannot achieving the United Nation SDG of ending hunger, achieving food security, improving, nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture, when we fail to implement such evidence farming practices.”

Mr Birender Singh Yadav, Indian High Commissioner, said the Embassy would work to ensure that the project become another shining example of India-Ghana partnership.

He explained that the project which involved human resource technology and capacity building was a south-south co-operation showing best practices that would help Ghana become self-sufficient in tomato production.

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, whose speech was read on his behalf said the partnership was very welcoming and the result of the pilot would form the basis for replication in more tomato producing areas in Ghana.

He said the production of tomato, which was one of the most important vegetables that is consumed in every household on daily basis in the country, was faced by many constraints such as poor varieties that have low yields and were susceptible to various diseases and pest.

He said the poor agronomic practices by farmers also contributed to low yields and quality of fruits harvested, which eventually also lead to poor market prices.

He expressed happiness that the project would contribute to the sustainable increase in tomato production and processing in the country so as to, generate employment, reduce rural poverty and enhance agro-industrial growth of the tomato industry in Ghana.

“The successes chalked under this project and the sharing of its results today is in the right direction coming just after the launch of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, which has tomato as one of the focal commodities”, he said.

Dr Girish Sahni, Head of CSIR-India, said science and technology was the only hope to bridge the poverty gap between the rich and the poor, and therefore scientists needed to come together to find solutions to the world’s problems relating to technology.