Tomato: Ghana’s Unexplored Goldmine

Tomatoes, in their numerous forms, are a globally famed staple crop with countless regional variants. Currently ranked 319th on the list of the world’s most traded products in 2022, it is one of the most studied commercial vegetable and greenhouse crops in the world. It is estimated that annual worldwide tomato production is 180,766,329 metric tonnes valued at $9.81 billion (

China produces more than 35% of the world’s tomatoes, equivalent to more than 62 million tonnes. India, Turkey, the United States, and Egypt take second through fifth place, producing a combined total volume of 49,459,836 metric tonnes, representing 27.4% of global output.

Tomatoes are grown on a total of 1,246,524 hectares of land in these four countries, while China grows enough tomatoes to sustainably feed its own people on just 1,086,771 hectares. Do you see the efficiency and productivity? However, fresh tomato exports around the world are very diverse.

Over 187 million metric tonnes of tomatoes were harvested in 2020, with an estimated 3.51 million tonnes shipped abroad. In terms of fresh tomato exports, Mexico is by far the leader, with almost 1.8 million metric tonnes worth $2.62 billion. A report indicates that the top five countries, the Netherlands ($1.82B), Spain ($1.1B), Morocco ($852M), and Canada ($448M) earn hugely from exporting fresh tomatoes (

As of 2022, the United States will have imported $2.9 billion worth of fresh tomatoes, making it the highest importer in the world. Other topmost tomato importing countries globally are Germany ($1.7 billion), France ($816.5 million), United Kingdom ($622.9 million), and Russia ($398.5 million), respectively ( However, the global production of tomatoes drastically dropped as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which subsequently impacted pricing of fresh and paste tomatoes in local markets across the globe. Despite these obstacles, global output is on the upswing and likely to continue expanding (

Current Trends of Tomato Market in Ghana

Approximately, 300,000 metric tonnes of tomatoes are grown in Ghana annually, with 90% consumed domestically. Three eighths of all vegetable spending in Ghana goes toward the ubiquitous tomato due to its central role in local Ghanaian cuisines. The Roma VF, Laurano, Raki, Chocó TP, Power Rano, Rasta, Italy Heinz, Cherry and Petomech cultivars are among the most widely planted in Ghana because of their suitability for processing into tomato paste.

Tomatoes are a fixture in every Ghanaian household, hotel, and restaurant, driving daily demand for tomato products in every region of the country. Consumers in Ghana have developed an insatiable hunger for convenience foods due to the country’s expanding middle class and growing urban population; thus, driving a rise in the demand for tomato paste, which is utilised in the cooking of many different cuisines in Ghana.

The growing demand for tomato pastes in Ghana eventually translate into a sizable market for locally-processed tomatoes. Unfortunately, Ghana’s tomato processing industry is still quite modest, and the country relies significantly on imports to meet demand. Over 100 million dollars’ worth of tomato paste is used annually in Ghana; that’s more than 1000 metric tonnes.

The majority of Ghana’s tomato production happens in nine of the country’s 16 regions. The Upper East, Northern, Brong East, Ahafo, Bono, Ashanti, Eastern, Greater Accra, and Volta regions are the notable production regions. There are approximately 11,728 farmers involved in tomato production in these major tomato growing regions of Ghana.

Tomato processing directly benefits an estimated 58,640 people (Trade Aid Integrated, 2021). The Ghana National Tomato Producers’ Federation estimates that the country’s annual tomato output is 510,000 metric tonnes, the country imports between 7,000 and 12,000 metric tonnes of tomatoes from Burkina Faso and 27,000 metric tonnes of processed tomatoes from Europe. Ghana possesses one of the largest agricultural dams in West Africa, as well as favourable topographical and agro-ecological characteristics (the Tano Dam, situated in a tomato farming region, can be used to produce tomato all year round).

The overwhelming importation of tomato paste into Ghana can be attributed to the shortage and high price of tomato during the dry and minor seasons. About 321,000 metric tonnes of tomatoes are grown yearly at a value of USD 118 million, with another 75,000 metric tonnes imported to make up the difference.

Moreover, during significant rainy seasons, farmers continue to face gluts and high post-harvest losses. About 30% of Ghana’s annual output of more than 510,000 metric tons of fresh tomatoes is lost every year due to spoilage.

Tomato processing in Ghana
The government of Ghana established two tomato processing plants, TOMACAN and Pwalugu Tomato Processing factories, in the early 1960s. Robinson and Kolavalli (2010) reported that the combined upshots of structural reforms advocated by the World Bank and the IMF, frequent breakdowns due to a lack of spare parts and obsolete machinery, incompetent financial management, weak marketing, and a lack of technical expertise led to the shutting down of both factories in the 1980s. Since then, the government of Ghana has tried multiple times to transform these facilities into commercial-scale tomato processing plants.

As part of the 1D1F initiative, Ghana hoped to entice industrial-scale tomato processors to set up commercial processing factories in Ghana. As part of a public-private partnership (PPP) with the government of Ghana and with funding assistance of GHS 200,000 from the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund, the agro-processing firm Techiman Processing Complex built a tomato processing factory in 2014.

Production at the plant had been stalled for some time due to a lack of necessary inputs. TEPCO is reportedly still trying to secure additional funding for its operations.
The FAO estimates that Ghana’s processing capacity for fresh tomatoes per day is 1,400 metric tonnes (500 tonnes at Trusty Foods and Northern Star, 200 tonnes at Afrique Link Ltd in Wenchi and TEPCO in Techiman). Even at full capacity, these three tomato processors would only be able to process 438,000 metric tonnes of fresh tomato into 54,750 metric tonnes of tomato paste annually (assuming a paste of 36-38% brix, requiring 8 metric tonnes of fresh tomato per tonne of paste), leaving Ghana with a shortfall in its supply of tomato paste despite the country’s high demand (in excess of 100,000 tonnes a year).

Any business that generates income from manufacturing or agricultural production and exports some or all of that produce is eligible for a corporate tax rebate of 40%-75%. To further reduce the cost of going global, exporters can claim a drawback of up to 100% of the tariffs paid on imported raw materials through a Custom Duty Drawback. Profits, Dividends, and Capital Mobility Guaranteed unconditional transferability in freely convertible currency of dividends or net profits attributable to investment in the enterprise shall be made through an authorised dealer bank, subject to the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723) and the regulations and notices issued under the Foreign Exchange Act. This paves the way for a complete repatriation of profits in the investment.

Ghana’s One District, One Factory Initiative
The policy is framed by Ghana’s overarching strategic goal of becoming a full middle-income, top-tier agro-industrial powerhouse in Africa. The strategy lays out specific and understandable instructions for executing the government’s domestic and foreign trade goals. To take advantage of export market prospects via AfCFTA and meet domestic market requirements, the government’s trade policy, as outlined in the sectoral growth of the agro-processing industry, requires the expansion and diversification of production of goods and services. It also stresses the importance of agriculture to Ghana’s economy and the role that agro-processing would play in the country’s efforts to diversify its economy. Due to the high cost of production and sometimes limited access to credit, farmers in Ghana are forced to sell fresh tomatoes for a profit, rather than to local tomato processors. This in turn makes it difficult for local tomato processors to compete with imported tomato paste, which is cheaper. During the peak season, when the processor price is higher than the fresh market price, farmers typically supply tomato factories; however, as the dry season approaches, farmers begin to shift their focus to the fresh market as tomatoes become increasingly scarce. In Ghana, locally-produced tomato paste is more affordable than imported tomato paste.

There are multiple brands of tomato paste available in Ghana, with the majority of these brands coming from either Europe or China. Notable manufacturers of tomato paste include: Conserveria Africana, producers of Gino and Pomo tomato paste; Olam produces Tasty Tom; Trusty Foods produces La Bianca tomato paste; and Centro Esportazione Conservati imports Salsa from Italy.

There are currently over 78,000 metric tonnes of tomato paste imported annually, and 12,000 metric tonnes exported after repackaging. The 210-gram tin of tomato paste is the best seller in Ghana’s retail tomato paste market. Interestingly, in the Ghanaian market, the most expensive tomato paste product is imported from Italy, Salsa, while the least priced is La Bianca, which is produced by Northern Star and packaged for sale by Trusty Foods locally.

Prices of tomato paste in Ghana have soared recently as cost of import have reached an all-time high, making foreign brands more expensive than Ghanaian ones. This means that the additional cost of paying above-market prices for Ghanaian-produced tomato paste is less than the additional cost of importing tomato paste into the country, allowing the locally-processed tomato to maintain a gross margin sufficient to cover the cost of inputs and at a reasonable profit.

Rising domestic demand for tomato
The rising middle class is a large market for locally-processed tomatoes. However, high-value food imports have been on the rise as domestic food processing capacities remain insufficient to meet consumer demand. In a recent joint agricultural sector review forum in Accra, data on tomato production in Ghana indicates a positive productivity gain in local tomato production from 2018-2021 (MoFA, 2022). As result of the high cost of imported tomato paste, Italy is one of Ghana’s top suppliers, thus Ghana is the eighth-largest buyer of Italian tomato paste.

The Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association of Ghana (Ghana Vegetables) reports that tomato imports from Burkina Faso have reached US$400 million annually from US$99.5 million in 2018. To meet its 800,000 metric tonnes tomato consumption, Ghana imports 90% of fresh tomatoes from Burkina Faso.

This is attributed to higher imports and decreased domestic production as a direct consequence of high cost of inputs, low-quality seeds, lack of mechanisation and machinery. Ghana Vegetables is increasing production and supply by 40% to keep at least half of the money in the country.

Ghana Vegetables reports that over 70% of Ghana’s shopping malls and shopping centres sell tomatoes from the Netherlands, Burkina Faso, and other countries ( Any investment into local tomato processing will help local farmers and their communities improve their livelihoods, improve their farming practices and offer farmers competitive, guaranteed minimum prices through contracts.

Source: Ghana Business

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