5 firms okayed to resume vegetable exports

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Five firms in the vegetable export business have received approval to resume trading in the suspended vegetable commodities on the international market.

The approval was given after the firms satisfied all the conditions set by the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).

They are Joekopan Farms, AB Farms, A Mahli Farms, Dhillon Farms and Shrighan Farms.

They will subsequently receive a laboratory approval certification to that effect today.

Consequently, the firms have also been directed to source the commodities, including capsicum (chillies), soladum (garden eggs) and luffa (turia) only from 13 out of the 70 inspected farms by the PPRSD in anticipation of the removal of the suspension on the commodities in the coming days.

The government has, since June 1, this year, placed a temporary suspension on the export of capsicum, soladum, luffa and all leafy vegetables to the international market as a proactive measure to avoid a European Union ban on vegetables from Ghana.

When contacted on July 6, a Deputy Director and Head of the Plant Quarantine Division of the PPRSD, Mr Prudence Atipo, confirmed the development and explained that the suspension of the selected vegetables had not been lifted yet, but the PPRSD had given the nod to some of the exporters to continue their operations.

That, he said, was because the exporters had been able to complete all the conditions required by the EU Commission to improve the health (phytosanitary systems) of vegetables that entered its market.

“So far, we have inspected 70 farms and apparently the outgrowers were not doing according to the protocols which we directed them to in terms of the harvest of vegetables, especially for the export market.

“As a result, the PPRSD has redirected both the outgrowers and the exporters to go by the protocols, else their produce will not be approved for export,” he said.

Reforms

Mr Atipo noted that under the new reforms of the PPRSD, every consignment must undergo laboratory tests before approval would be given for it to leave the country.

Although the reforms were already operational, he explained that players in the industry were not fully complying with them and so the PPRSD would be strict in their implementation.

“For instance, before the temporary suspension was slapped on the commodities, the outgrowers were not applying the appropriate chemicals on their produce and those who used the approved type were also not applying the right quantity.

“We have even started failing those who are not complying with the protocols from the farm straight ahead. In fact, from the first two weeks of our farm inspection, only two out of the 51 audited farms met the conditions,” the deputy director said.

He indicated that the PPRSD had directed all exporters not to source their produce from unapproved farms again but rather export according to the yield of the approved farms with their unique codes.

Documentations

He noted that produce meant for export was expected to pass three major assessments before leaving the country — presentation of farm waybill, pack-house waybill and laboratory certification.

Mr Atipo said the overall inspection along the value chain, from the farm to the pack-house to the exit points, had so far been strengthened and the PPRSD had increased its staff strength to execute its mandate effectively.

Dwindling fortunes

Generally, the vegetable export business in Ghana is currently undergoing a rough phase due to a combination of factors, forcing majority of players in the industry to divert into other areas.

Checks by the Daily Graphic indicate that of the 1,500 registered vegetable exporters in the country, only 100 are currently in active business.
Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) data show negative export fluctuations in the sector over a decade.

From $1.75 million in 2009, foreign exchange derived from vegetable exports rose to $4.35 million in 2011, before declining to $608,304 in 2016.

The industry, which yielded approximately $831,751 in 2017, dropped further to $669,208 in 2018.

Source: Daily Graphic