Greetings from Joekopan Enterprise!
The ban on some selected vegetables to the EU has resulted in huge loss of revenue to Ghana but on the whole, Exporters and Outgrowers happen to be the main sufferers of the ban.
In the case of Joekopan, the ban has affected about 90% of its revenue, weakened demand for export crops, posed a threat to the project with GhanaVeg and restricted outgrowers to produce. This has heightened the company’s vulnerability and clear need to diversify both in terms of products and markets as very little could be done.
As Joseph P. Kennedy posited, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. This can be said of Joekopan Enterprise. Strategically, Joekopan quickly adopted a product and market development strategy to survive the ban as well as continue to make achieving objectives of the project a possibility.
In terms of markets, the company has explored the possibility of serving new non-EU and the domestic markets with existing products. These included markets within the sub-region like Nigeria, Middle East. For the first time Joekopan supplied products such as chillies to the local Ghanaian market.
Product development which became a necessity to sustaining one’s capacity within the European ethnic markets especially for consumer order became a challenge to sell. One of such product before the ban was chillies and this forms about 50% of every customer order. There was also a complimentary relation with other products meaning customers ordering other products depended on the availability of chillies. In order to keep a strong demand and do the volumes required to continue to make the Torgome project viable, a key product was required. The idea of cultivating Okra which had a huge potential became pertinent in this situation.
Currently, Joekopan’s customers’ require about 30 tonnes of Indiana and Clemson varieties of Okra a week. Although previously not exported by Joekopan, Okra which is exempted from the ban list, happens to be a key product required by current customers with long standing relationships with the company. The good news is that, Okra could potentially be in high demand as chillies.
Over the last five months Joekopan successfully produced about 30 tonnes of Okra from 6 acres produced along with out-growers for both the export and the local markets. Customers were overwhelmed by the quality and the fact that there wasn’t a single interception.
In line with the diversification objective, Joekopan is also pursuing other products such as beans and peas which are not the traditional Asian vegetable but very popular in other countries like France and Spain. To achieve this objective, farming activities have been extended to the Aburi area which has more favourable weather conditions especially for peas. Although the production of beans and peas were not envisaged at the beginning of the project, developments have made it necessary for advancement during a tough time. Beans and peas will now be included as part of Joekopan’s product list in the next GlobalGAP audit. Interestingly, the ban has in a way been a blessing in disguise. This has help Joekopan to foster activities quickly to be GlobalGAP certified. This is in the hope that, after the Ban is lifted, Joekopan will have an effective way to do business.
In terms of professionalizing activities, Joekopan has brought on board an experienced agronomist from Kenya who is leading the production effort. The company expects to start exporting beans and peas in the next few weeks which is important financially as well as operationally as beans is an excellent rotation crop for Okra production.