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Exporters of harmful vegetables are economic saboteurs – GEPA Boss

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vegetablesMr Gideon Boye Quarcoo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), has described exporters of harmful and pest infested vegetables without compliance to the required exports standards as economic saboteurs of the sector.

He said this was because those who were not complying had caused the recent ban that was placed on vegetables – which also affected those who were complying.

He pointed out that it would have negative rippling effect on the economy, as it would lead to a significant drop of export sales and reduction in export trade.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra, Mr Quarcoo said buyers of such vegetables may look for alternative markets, since their vegetables could not be exported, whilst the market of such vegetables would shrink.

He said the cost of the ban on the vegetables could not be counted, as it was in millions of dollars.

The affected vegetables, he said,  include; Capsicum, Solanum species example; Aubergines, Momordica, Luffa and Lagenaria (gourd family).

Mr Quarcoo said another effect was that it could also result in the laying off of some farm workers in that particular sub-sector, and families depending on such businesses would suffer.

He disclosed that the GEPA had geared up towards educating farmers to ensure that the required standards were complied with, because the lack of compliance made farmers end up sending bad products to the EU market.

He said some export operators just bought from Agbogboloshie market in Accra, thus creating traceability problem, because those who sold from the Agbogbloshie market were not the original farmers of the products they were selling.

“We need a good traceability system where we know your farm and pack house, but not a market where we cannot trace them to their origins,’ adding that the biggest question to ask is: “what happens in the farm, are farmers applying the right quantity of fertilizers and other things needed for the proper growth of the vegetables.”

He disclosed that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had properly resourced the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD), to enable it execute its duty of properly registering exporters, inspecting their farms and pack houses, and carrying out continuous monitoring.

He said the EU which was Ghana’s major export market, used very sophisticated systems and carried out random sampling of products with scanners.

This, he said, made it very easy for them to detect and find the harmful pesticides on the vegetables.

The CEO called for collaboration between the PPRSD, GEPA and other departments, with the provision of certificates to facilitate the business.

He recalled that in the past there used to be agriculture extension officers who liaised with farmers, and inspected their farms to make sure farmers did the right.

Mr Quarcoo said government was looking at the regulatory environment of the exports, adding, there was the need for a programme of corrective action to restore the sector and raise its level in the face of the EU.

Ghana had over 400 different products in the non-traditional sector like handicrafts among others, including processed, semi processed goods and agricultural products, he said.

Source: GNA

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