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Benefits Of Eating Fruits And Vegetables8 min read

Benefits Of Eating Fruits And Vegetables<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">8</span> min read</span>
Fruits and vegetables play critical roles in the daily lives of every individual. It provides nutrients which help in the digestion of foods and also ensure the improvement of day-to-day activities. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can help protect people against cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Many Ghanaians seem not to be fruit and vegetable lovers due to the high cost of the produce.

GBCNEWS interacted with some stakeholders in the production of fruits and vegetables as they prepared to organise the Ghana Fruits and Vegetables Fair at the Parks and Gardens in Accra to enlighten the public on the need to take in fruits and vegetables and other benefits derived from their production.

Have we asked ourselves what benefits we get from eating fruits and vegetables? Or we only eat them. How many times do we even include them in our diet? Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of dietary fibre, which can help maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestion problems. Eating fruits and vegetables can help you manage your weight because they are low in calories and high in water content. It may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers, but the cost involved prevents many people from consuming it.

Some members of the public believe the cost of fruits and vegetables these days makes it difficult to consume them most of the time.

The Ghana Fruits and Vegetables Fair is open to all individuals and businesses in the horticultural industry who wish to exhibit or sell their products and services. The fair, which is under the theme “Harnessing the Gains of the Horticulture Sector with focus on the Africa Continental Free Trade Market”, is not only to showcase fruits and vegetables but also to explain the importance of agriculture, the need to invest in the sector, and the dynamics of production and exportation. Farmers will have the opportunity to display their produce to the general public.

GBCNEWS finds out from Ghanaians whether or not they include fruits and vegetables in their daily meal.

“There are so many benefits to consuming fruits and vegetables. Some fruits boost our immunity to defend our systems against disease, and some act as fibre to help prevent constipation. Unfortunately for me, I don’t often eat it because it’s really expensive, but when I get the chance, I try to include it in my diet. I don’t like the taste of some vegetables too,” a member of the public noted.

“Consuming fruits and vegetables has quite a lot of essential vitamins and minerals, as well as nutrients that help our well-being, maintain healthy skin, and boost our immune system. Personaly, I don’t really eat that much fruit and vegetables, but I recently incorporated them into what I eat,” another member said.

“For me, I try as much as possible to include fruits and vegetables in the diet of the family. I wish I could do that every day, but looking at how expensive, especially fruits and some vegetables, are in our market these days, we include them as and when we can afford them,” a woman indicated.

President of the Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Felix Kamassah, who gave some health benefits of fruits and vegetables, asked Ghanaians not to look at the cost but the benefit derived from them.

“When you talk about balance diet, vegetables play a role in terms of the nutrients you can gain from them. So it’s good for our body; it helps our food digest. Some of the vegetables also give us vitamin A and C; just that in Ghana, some of us don’t like eating vegetables, unless we are preparing Jollof rice, that we add one or two vegetables,” Mr Kamassah said.

Mr. Kamassah debunked the notion that venturing into agriculture comes with a lot of risks and assured the public that investing in agriculture will not only increase the income of farmers and generate revenue for the government but it will also provide employment for many Ghanaians. He entreated the public to take advantage of the opportunities in the agricultural sector to make a living and not wait on the government for jobs.

“People think agriculture is a risky area, but I can assure them that agriculture investment takes a long time. People are not patient to see the result; we want to see the result the following day. The major challenge in the vegetable crop industry is mechanisation. Mechanisation is in a lot of forms, and vegetable farmers need to be able to grow their crops. It involves irrigation, tractor services, accessibility of the lands for cultivation, etc. There a lot of opportunities in this sector, so we are telling the youth they shouldn’t wait for government, they should start something, they should partner with each other,” Mr Tamakloe reiterated.

He urged government to support and invest in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, as it has done in the cocoa industry, to help in the socio-economic development of the country.

“Our vegetable sector too needs that kind of investment like government has done to the cocoa sector to attract the youth because we always say we want the youth to go into agriculture,” the President added.

The Chief Executive Officer of AB Farms, Benjamin Agbesi, said although the sector is lucrative, cost of fertilizer and farm inputs due to economic inflation has become a challenge for many farmers. He urged government to help improve the industry.

“Some of the vegetables we are producing here in Ghana, most of the people do not know it like the Asian vegetables. So we are doing this to expose those vegetables to the public and let them know it’s good for their consumption. At the moment, we are facing challenges on fertilizer and farm inputs as whole because of taxes. These seeds, fertiliser, and chemicals are very expensive at the moment. If possible, government can do something that will subsidise the fertiliser and some of those pesticides to help our farming industry,” Mr Agbesi indicated.

Executive Secretary, Green Label Ghana Foundation, Anthony Tamakloe, encouraged individuals who wish to venture into the sector to visit the fair to get education on how to become sustainable in the sector.

“Vegetables create a whole lot of benefits for the economy. It helps in job creation; the horticulture products are products that can help even the young graduate from school who is not having a job to do and seeking to get himself or herself engaged can go into the horticultural production of fruit and vegetables. Even if you don’t have the know how, you can come to the fair and network with some of the farmers who can help you become sustainable because the cycle is about 3 months. When you plant tomatoes, cucumbers, and turia, between 3 and 6 months, you can turn around your investment. So we are inviting the public—anybody who has interest in going into horticulture,” Mr Tamakloe indicated.

Mr. Tamakloe said Ghana still imports quite a number of fruits and vegetables because farmers are not able to produce to meet local market demand. This, he believes, calls for concern. Mr. Tamakloe asked Ghanaians to consume more fruits and vegetables to stay healthy.

“Agriculture has come far, and the work has moved from the hoe and cutlass system of farming to a more mechanised way. The farmers are not getting the needed investment to produce more. Ghana is importing a lot of vegetables because if you take the entire farming population, you have between 10 to 20 percent who are doing commercial farming, the remaining 80 to 85 percent are still doing the hoe and cutlass, so there is always that gap that we are importing,” the Executive Secretary said.

He outlined some activities that will take place during the Fair.

“There are seminars that will be taking place during the day. In our first seminar, we are bringing an expert to educate farmers on AfCFTA. We are also having a seminar on access to finance, and we are bringing the banks to come and talk to the participants about the various financial instruments that are available and how to access them. Also, farm input dealers, like the irrigation and seedling to come and talk to the farmers. So it’s not just about the Fair,” Mr Tamakloe stated.

The Fruits and Vegetables Fair is expected to attract over 1,000 visitors, presenting a unique networking opportunity. This year’s event will attract producers, Agro-input distributors, transporters, financial institutions, cold storage service providers, exporters, importers, insurance service providers, and an aggregator of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is sponsored by Ghana Netherlands Business Cultural Council, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association, the Green Label, the Eden Tree, and the Republic Bank.

By Hannah Dadzie, Gifty Xornam Adonoo and Ubaida Awudu

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