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Opinions of Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Columnist: Kwaku Nkansah for Offinso North Campaign Team

Kwaku Nkansah kicks against foreign domination ...

in our tomato industry, but welcomes Nigeria's demand

Kwaku Nkansah, the CPP Parliamentary candidate for Offinso North has reacted to a story carried in the 4th April 2008 edition of the Daily Guide titled "Nigeria chases Ghana Tomatoes".

In the story, it stated the following; "Consequently, Trusty Foods Limited, Italy's largest tomato producer and processor company, based in Tema is collaborating with tomato farmers in the country to enable it take advantage of this deal.

The company had already entered an agreement with the National Farmers and Fishermen Awards Winners of Ghana (NFFAWAG) to support the development of land for the production of fresh tomatoes for industrial uses.

The total land necessary for the cultivation of tomato to feed Trusty Foods is estimated at 5,000 hectares.

Trusty Foods said it was prepared to form an association with the farmers.

A letter of intent written by Trusty Foods to NFFAWAG on March 18, 2008 and chanced upon by CITY&BUSINESS GUIDE stated that "the association would be 51 percent owned by Trusty Foods, 30 percent by NFFAWAG, 10 percent by the individual tomato farmers and nine percent by Ministry of Agriculture".

He said while this is a good sign of Commerce with our inter-regional neighbours and a neighbouring African country, he cannot see where Trusty Foods Limited should be the largest shareholder; "This is not good for Africa, for the West African sub-region and for Ghana, because again, we have failed to seize the initiative in making this a Ghanaian/African venture, with foreign capital. I am not against foreign firms owning businesses in our dear Ghana, no, but with the current food crisis threatening to overtake the world, I think it is important that this is a Ghanaian led initiative which will also give Ghanaians jobs and the long sought after food security. It is a shame our farmers, who will be doing the hard work are given just 9%. Yes, it is true that in total, Ghana will own 49% of this agreement but tomatoes are so important to us that we should rather reap the benefits and not a company that will in the end repatriate its profits to an European country".

Kwaku Nkansah's constituency - Offinso North - is also very popular with cultivating tomatoes - many Ghanaians know Akomadan Tomatoes very well - and also lamented the fact that even though the NPP had promised a tomato factory, the people of Offinso North are yet to see it. " We could have been seen as one of the tomato producing areas in the world, just like California, Italy and Chile to name a few, if the present government had taken its promise seriously. It would also have regenerated the area and brought in the much need jobs that the good people of our constituency could desperately do with. This is not good and it just goes to show that this government is all talk and doesn't deliver. You would also note that Offinso North is not going to sell anything for making tomato paste, even as we would like to. Perhaps the government has statistics that says Offinso North's output of Tomatoes is nothing and we should not waste time. If they do, they should tell us and maybe we will do more. I think we should encouraged to do more, shouldn't we instead of being sidelined, don't you think??", he told the cheering crowd.

He also told the people to give him the nod and that he would do all in his power to start the factory even if it means it may initially employ just five people. "The journey of 1000 miles, we have been told, begins with a step and we, the CPP will take that step on the 8th December 2009. Please vote for the CPP and for Kwaku Nkansah on Sunday 7th December 2008 for a "development for all with all"", he added.

He said that the CPP government will negotiate seriously with the World Trade Organisation in making sure that our tomato industry is also given recognition. He went on to say that the Minutes of the Trade Policy Review on Ghana held in January 2008 carried a statement by Ghana's trade Representative to the effect that "Ghana's plans to introduce a ban on tomato paste imports seem not to be enforced by any official decision ( Page 14 Item no. 57 )". "The question is, why is the government dragging its feet?? Is it truly interested in providing jobs?? I doubt it because it would have moved quickly in this direction. But be rest assured, the CPP government, under Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom who's MP in Offinso North will be Kwaku Nkansah, will move quickly to get this done. We would work aggressively, day and night, to make sure that Tomatoes, our dear fruit is grown, marketed and distributed for all Ghanaians/Africans to know that yes, we can also do better", he told the crowd amidst cheers of "Yeresesamu, Yeresesamu".

He also thanked the Nigerian government, for the confidence they have shown in the Ghanaian tomato industry and hoped that other African countries will follow Nigeria's lead in developing further our inter-regional trade. "We need to see more of these and we also need to encourage our friends and neighbours to buy from each other. That is one of the strengths of being in the ECOWAS" he concluded.