The European Union has placed a temporary ban on capsicum, lagenaria, luffa, momordia, which are gourds, and solanum species other than tomatoes and potatoes from Ghana until December 2016 due to a high level of harmful organisms.
Sponsored by the Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security (FDOV) of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, the project seeks to build the capacity of the farmers in the production and export chain to enable them to address issues of phytosanitary systems, knowledge sharing, infrastructure development, compliance with international standards and attraction of financial intermediation for the chain actors.
It is being executed by the Centre of Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), a non-governmental organisation, together with GAVEX, an association of Ghanaian vegetable exporting companies, and the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Division (PPRSD), among other partners.
The main aim of the project is to improve the export of Ghanaian vegetables by upgrading plant health and food safety to standards Union (EU).
Speaking at the launch of the project in Accra Friday, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr Joseph Kwasi Boamah, observed that vegetable production and marketing provided an excellent source of employment for both rural and urban households.
He said the challenges identified with vegetable exports from Ghana, therefore, threatened a wide range of livelihoods.
He said Ghana’s growing middle class was now very much aware of consuming healthy vegetables.
“This, coupled with the rise in the number of supermarkets in the urban areas, dawns on us to grow safe horticultural produce not because we have to meet standards of markets beyond our shores but also meet the food safety demands of our local consumers,” he said.
Mr Boamah, therefore, described the initiative to improve the food safety and phytosanitary conditions of the farm produce as welcome.
An official of the Netherlands Embassy, Mr Thierry van Hilden, said he was pleased with the newly established partnership and stated that the timing could not be better considering the current ban on export of Ghanaian vegetables.
“It only takes one player to break the chain,” he said, referring to the importance of collaborative action to improve the horticulture sector and the export abilities.
The Regional Co-ordinator of CABI West Africa, Dr V. A. Clottey, noted that trade in agricultural produce carried risks to human, animal and plant health.
He said the project would deploy sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures to address the challenges facing the vegetable subsector in Ghana that had resulted in the ban on exports to the EU until December 2016.