Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna, the Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), has commissioned newly constructed and refurbished export inspection facilities at the Aviance Cargo Village in Accra.
The facilities, which are housed in one room, are to ensure that vegetables from Ghana met international standards before they are exported to international markets especially to the European Union (EU).
Alhaji Limuna said the facilities would essentially anchor services delivered by the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate of MOFA so that Ghana’s plant produce exports would conform to standards set by destination countries.
Being competitive at the market is an important consideration in all business operations which is why vegetables and other plant produce farmers and exporters must make endless efforts at achieving possible quality for their produce.
The Minister therefore, urged farmers to pay attention to good agronomic practices while exporters complied with operating regulations of product handling and packaging.
Failure to commit to the above would result in the situation where existing markets looked at different sources to meet their needs, he said.
Five vegetable varieties have been banned from entering the EU market since September 2015 and as a result, Ghana had the unpleasant duty of acting ahead of the EU in cracking the whip on this matter, because of the high levels of interceptions registered by the Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission.
Alhaji Limuna said the action was intended to send a strong signal to farmers and exporters that Ghana was not willing to compromise the integrity of its exports in a critical market like the EU, on the back of the inactions of the few unscrupulous farmers and traders.
Measures taken to address the situation include reviewed pest list in Ghana, review existing plant quarantine manual, rigorous inspection of produce with increased sampling size and a ban on exporters who flout guidelines and regulations.
The Minister told vegetable farmers that the Ministry was prepared to clamp down on their misdoings and apply the ultimate sanctions without fear or favour.
All plant produce intended for exports must be inspected by the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate and appropriately captured on the phytosanitary certificates, Alhaji Limuna said.
He said products that had not been inspected should never make their way into our value chain and officers who compromised on this position would have themselves to blame.
Alhaji Limuna said the telling effects of the current freeze on the genuine efforts of farmers and businessmen providing support to the value chain could not be overstated.
“Livelihoods and investments have practically been destroyed and we cannot afford a repeat of this situation,” he said.
He said the climate was suitable for multiple season production of vegetables, coupled with the comparative advantage in proximity to destination countries in Europe and beyond, adding that the potential to leverage growth of the Ghanaian economy on the basis of commercial vegetable production was very promising.