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Friday, 22 January 2016

The eloquent tale of the Ghanaian tomato

A partnership agreement with the European Union is intended to stimulate the African economies. The Italian tomato is cheaper on Ghanaian markets than its native cousin. This is causing small farmers to emigrate to the European fields, where they harvest… the very tomatoes competing with them. The scarlet fruits ripen in the long grass. Farmer Kojo Ebeneku works barefoot. Day after day, he picks one tomato after another. He battles against the caterpillars that devour his plants, against prices in free-fall, against European farmers who plant subsidised tomatoes on huge areas and send them all over the world. He battles the European Union, which provides these subsidies. For ten years, 45-year-old Kojo Ebeneku has been harvesting his tomatoes. He knows how to extract the seeds from the best fruits, he knows how to dig holes in the ground with three blows of his machete to plant the seeds. He knows how to fertilise and water his plants. But he does not know how to read a book, write a letter or calculate his income. He lives with his family in the village of Kualedor, in south-eastern Ghana, in a round wattle and daub hut with a roof made of straw. Ghana is the model State for Africa. It exists in peace, has free elections, and its gross domestic product (GDP) is growing by 4% or more per year. Many Ghanaians hope their country will one day evolve into an industrialised State, bringing them jobs and well-being. For the moment, however, like Kojo Ebeneku, the harvest is not enough to survive on. Most of his compatriots dream only of moving elsewhere. To Europe. In Kojo’s village almost everyone has a cousin, aunt or friend who has climbed onto a lorry, crossed the desert and sailed the Mediterranean on a frail inflatable dinghy. Kojo Ebeneku calls them desperate, while the EU calls them economic refugees. The EU plans to combat the causes of this flow of migrants by ensuring that the living conditions in their countries of origin improve. The strategy is obvious, but there is one hitch: the EU also wants to trade with Africa. This trade worsens the living conditions of Kojo and those like him.

Source: L'Hebdo

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