Vigorous protocol measures await Ghanaian Vegetable Exporters after EU ban is lifted

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Ghana vegetable farmers and exporters are to follow very stringent measures in the coming export seasons in order to meet the requirements of vegetable exports into the European Union market as the two year old ban on exports expires on December 31, 2017.

Come January 2018, the ban on the exportation of farm produce, especially vegetables such as Chilli pepper, ridged gourd and eggplant from Ghana into the European Union (EU) market will be officially lifted since the EU does not wish to extend the ban beyond December 31. However, vegetable exporters are to undergo rigorous protocols before final certification for exports of their produce is allowed.

The phyto-sanitary conditions that necessitated the ban have been improved to meet the European standards and according to the European Union’s 2017 audit on Ghana after its review of the new Roadmap for Pest Reduction in Ghana’s Vegetable Export Sector the road is now clear for resumption of export activities from next year for those who have adopted the new protocol as their guide.

A representative from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, William Lamptey, speaking at the last GhanaVeg Business Platform Meeting in Accra, expressed the Ministry’s happy at the efforts and sacrifices that have been made by stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the challenge in the growing and export of vegetables in Ghana. He said this has begun to yield the desired results leading to the eventual lifting of the ban on Ghana.

The European Union is the biggest market for Ghana in terms of vegetable exports, however sanctions were placed on exports of vegetables from Ghana due to repeated pest interceptions. The main pests that engulfed the vegetable sector necessitating the ban included thrips, false codling moth, whiteflies and fruit flies which attacked exportable crops such as the ridged gourd, chilli pepper, and eggplant.

Though initially the ban on Ghana was supposed to last until December 2016, it was extended to December 2017 but after a number of interventions facilitated by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in collaboration with other stakeholders were rolled out, the EU has communicated that it does not wish to extend the ban beyond this year.

Mr. Lamptey explained that the ban was as a result of the fact that the vegetable export market was not properly regulated and therefore it was difficult for the country to control the quality of the produce that left it shores to the EU. He expressed confidence that the new protocols will help reduce the incidence of pest and prevent a further ban.

To ensure that Ghana’s vegetable export market was quickly restored and rescued from collapse after the ban, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture set up an Exports Task Force made up of public, private and donor agencies, with MoFA’s Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) and the Ghana Association of Vegetable Exporters (GAVEX) as key members.

GhanaVeg and the University of Ghana, in collaboration with CABI, GIZ-MOAP and PPRSD, decided to support a team of researchers to study, analyze and advise the Export Taskforce and GAVEX on how to systematically reduce pest levels in the field, and to provide short-term, practical recommendations or a roadmap to achieve that purpose.

Dr. Ken Okwae Fening of the University of Ghana, a member of the team of researchers that came up with the Roadmap for Pest Reduction in Ghana’s Export Vegetable Sector indicated that there was a need for the enhancement of research efforts in the sector in order to reduce pest in the vegetable export.

He emphasized that Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has been the universally accepted method in managing pests on crops worldwide and it is the approved pest control method in Ghana and after the institution of the Roadmap, only about 17 interceptions of pest were made at the time of the EU’s latest audit as compared to the over 500 interceptions that were made at the time of the ban.

Dr. Fening indicated that even as the ban has been lifted, there was the need for a lot of work to be done to sustain the gains made in the sector.

GhanaVeg is a Dutch funded programme that supports the commercial vegetable sector in Ghana and it sets the platform for at least one strategic business meeting for stakeholders every quarter. Over the last four years, GhanaVeg has worked with around 30 professional vegetable to boost their production, sales and revenue. The Programme Leader is Joep van den Broek and assisted by Sheila Assibey-Yeboah.

Source: Clement Akoloh || ghananewsonline.com.gh

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