GHANA – The apex body of agriculture and agribusiness sector players in Ghana, the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana (CAG) has announced to reach an advanced discussions stage with the Trade Department of the UK High Commission to have a route system for the supply of tomatoes to the UK.

According to Ghana Web citing the B& FT online, CAG’s CEO Anthony Serlom Morisson said the partnership has become critical as the UK is undergoing a shortage of tomatoes, some vegetables, and other fruits.

 He added that Ghana stands a chance to benefit greatly from the deficit, as the Chamber is finalizing discussions with the UK’s High Commission to secure the green light to export large quantities of quality tomatoes to the UK market.

He emphasized that local producers have what it takes, including the competitive and comparative advantage to produce for export, adding: “Issues of certification and quality are not of concern, but rather a guaranteed market.”

When finalized according to Mr. Morrison, the tomato guaranteed market trade system will enable the export of at least £10 million of locally produced tomatoes to the UK market per annum for a start.

Ghana Web media house notes that the UK imports an estimated £1.5 billion of fruit and vegetables annually. Tomato imports alone stand at over £200 million (US$212m) a year.

So far, Kenya and Uganda have already approached the UK in their respective countries to try to fill the gap.

According to Euronews, approximately 25% of the UK’s tomatoes come from Morocco, whereas 20% come from Spain.

Reports from the UK have noted an alarming shortage of some fruits and vegetables, notably tomatoes, as major supermarkets have limited the purchase quantities.

National Farmers Union vice president David Exwood said: “We are repeatedly seeing a predictable combination of factors such as energy costs and weather leading to empty supermarket shelves. Our UK food resilience is currently going. The government needs to take this seriously.

“Producers must have the confidence they need, working within a fair and transparent supply chain, ensuring fair and sustainable returns so they can do what they do best; produce nutritious, high-quality British Food to meet demand from shoppers.”

Sainsbury’s chief executive told The Guardian that the UK only had itself to blame for the problems and that the country was “uniquely exposed to imports at this time of year. There is a genuine shortage, but we did rather bring this problem on ourselves”.

While the shortages have come as a surprise to some, the situation is no different from similar events that led to mass shortages of fruit and veg in 2017 – once again due to poor weather affecting harvests in southern Europe and Northern Europe.

The Moroccan Association of Fruit and Vegetables (APEFEL) has addressed the UK’s tomato shortage, attributing it to Morocco’s “unusual climatic conditions,” Fresh Produce Journal reported.

“As a natural consequence, the daily harvest has dropped sharply, resulting in shortening the supply capacity of packing stations and provisions of the local Moroccan market, as well as markets abroad,” APEFEL indicated in a statement.

For all the latest food industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.