The Plant Protection and Regulatory Services (PPRS) Unit of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has cautioned farmers against the use of imported used farm equipment which is not cleaned and rid of pests to prevent the transfer of pests to local farms.
It said the used imported equipment was possible carriers of pests from their home countries and therefore would need to be cleaned and sprayed before arriving in the country.
The Deputy Director of Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Unit of MOFA, Mrs Ruth Woode, gave the advice when she addressed a stakeholders’ forum for members of the Eastern Regional Shippers Committee, mainly mango and vegetable growers in the Manya and Yilo Krobo districts at Somanya.
She spoke on food security and good compliance practices and the need to ensure efficient ‘phytosanitary’ conditions to boost increased production and export of their produce.
Mrs Woode said “transfer of infested equipment can be the source of invasion of local farm produce by foreign pests and must be checked.”
She explained that pests had caused destruction of food items and loss of investments to farmers and therefore needed to be tackled seriously.
Mrs Woode stated that the PPRS unit was determined to support the farmers to import from pest-free areas to help prevent pest infestation.
She condemned the act of dumping fruits on the ground at marketplaces, especially during rainy seasons, making them unhygienic to consumers and the source of diseases and germs.
Mrs Woode stated that exports were to meet specific standards and therefore it must be extended to the local market.
She said mangoes, oranges and pineapples, among other fruits on the market, needed to be handled well to prevent attack from pests just as the international market was serious with standards.
Mrs Woode said the PPRS unit would start an exercise to take farmers through a monitoring programme to ensure that they acquired knowledge on good practices.
She said the farmers would be taken through production to export stages with strict monitoring from officials of the MOFA.
According to her, the selected farmers would be taken through trial inspection by officials from the Ghana Standards Board on its standards which represented international standards.
Mrs Woode took the fanners through various compliance, certification, import requirements and general rules regarding trade.
She emphasised the need to have phytosanitary certification which ensured food security and gave the exporter the sovereign right.
The Chief Standards Officer of the Ghana Standards Board, Mr Winifred Tettevi, who spoke on “Quality control of farm produce,” urged the fanners to ensure good manufacturing and production standards because they played a major role in the setting of international standards.
He advised that fanners should allow a minimum period for pesticide level to drop or make it harmful for consumption.
Mr Tettevi announced that the Ghana Standards Board was in the process of completing a Pesticide Residue Analysis Unit at Okponglo in Accra to check the level of pesticides.
Mr Tettevi said chemically forced ripe fruits must not be entertained just as injury to fruits which made them rot in short time.
He stated that proper packaging and labelling were important to attract customers.
The farmers unanimously advocated subsidy on chemicals which they used in getting rid of fruit flies and other pests.
The acting Shipper Services Manager of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, Mr Robin-Huws Barnes, stated that the forum was aimed at finding solutions to problems confronting the farmers and reaching out and interacting with trade associations in their localities.
He said the line up-programmes was aimed at supporting shippers in their international trade transactions to make the cost of doing business cheaper and competitive.
Mr Barnes said the forum was held four times in a year for members in the Greater Accra, Eastern, Ashanti, Western and Volta regions.
Source: Daily Graphic