41-year-old Felix Kamassah, an Economist, is Ghana’s largest producer and exporter of vegetables.
The Chief Executive Officer of Maphlix Trust Farm, left the banking sector in 2010 for vegetable farming in the Ketu North District of the Volta Region and has since turned some teachers in the locality into farmers.
His farm sprawls on 1,900 acres of land producing vegetables such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, okra, and marrow vegetable (tender summer squash).
The vegetables are cultivated on both open field and in 38 greenhouses.
The successes chalked by Maphlix Trust Farm came to light when the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Volta, Oti and Eastern Chairman, Mr Dela Gadzanku, led some media personalities, who are ambassadors for this year’s Volta Fair, to visit some tourist sites and agribusinesses in the Volta Region ahead of the Fair.
The Fair, scheduled for November this year, is to promote investment in the Region in the field of Tourism, Agribusiness and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
The Maphlix Trust Farm exports its raw vegetables – potatoes and okro to Europe – the United Kingdom and Germany.
In the first half of this year, the farm exported over 180 tonnes of potatoes. The potatoes are GlobalG.A.P Certification standards and in high demand.
The CEO says they developed market for okro during the lockdown period, and working hard to meet demands from Europe.
The farm grows its tomato, cucumber and tender summer squash under greenhouse conditions and working towards the construction of a packhouse to develop more markets.
“We even have markets with Texpo, but with Textpo, you need a packhouse with a laboratory, so we are working on that and it will be the biggest packhouse in West Africa,” Mr Kamassah, said.
He says he had taken delivery of a container for the packhouse about three weeks ago from the harbour and that the idea is to be packing from the farm straight to the harbour or airport with a tracking device for the export market.
The packhouse will have offices for Customs officials and a laboratory so that certification could be done on the farm.
The farm currently employs 46 permanent workers, with 60 to 70 casual workers in the catchment area.
It works with about 600 outgrowers, serving as offtakers for their produce. Maphlix Trust Farm has six tractors which plough for the outgrowers.
Mr Kamassah says as a way of giving back to the community, the farm had built toilet, boreholes and health facilities for some of the communities and supported the outgrowers with quality planting materials.
The GNA gathered that in 2019, primary vegetables yield for Ghana was 65,773 hg per ha.
Though Ghana’s primary vegetables yield fluctuated substantially in recent years, it increased through 1970 – 2019 period ending at 65,773 hg per ha in 2019.
Therefore, efforts by Maphlix Trust Farm to help scale-up vegetable production in Ghana deserves commendation from all as it prepares to take advantage of opportunities under AfCFTA to reach markets on the continent.
Mr Gadzanku commended Mr Kamassah and says AGI is working towards the realisation of ECOWAS Market project in the Volta Region.
He says AGI is profiling districts to highlight their potential for investors and hopeful operationalisation of Ghana’s Development Bank will help address issues of capital for entrepreneurs.
He says a major concern for young entrepreneurs in the Region is lack of electricity to farms and business locations and called for support from central government and local Assemblies to fix the challenge.
It appears Government’s “Planting for food and jobs” initiative is inviting many young people into agribusiness and it is important that an enabling environment is created to grow the local economy battered by COVID-19.