Fresh produce exporters in the country are sharpening their skills in the trade in order to overcome emerging challenges on the increasingly competitive export market.
A Canada-based Ghanaian agriculturist with interest in post-harvest technology, Dr Samuel K. Asiedu, is assisting the fresh produce exporters, regulators, financial institutions and export trade facilitating agencies in various aspects of the export trade, including expositions on the export business, post harvest operations management, standards and access to financing.
The “Produce import/export skills for entrepreneurs training” is the first of a series of such workshops being organised by the Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE).
Dr Asiedu said the workshop would help the export community, particularly the participants to identify new products, markets as well as the requirements for producing them and be imbued with the necessary entrepreneurial skills for them to grow their businesses.
“We are looking at various activities that will enable us to get our produce fresh to the market,” the post harvest technology expert who received a national award from the Chinese Government last year for helping them to diversify their product range, told the Daily Graphic at the workshop in Accra.
He said fresh produce now had a much larger global market with buyers sourcing from any producer anywhere in the world, provided they could meet standards.
Dr Asiedu said Ghana had some of the best varieties of fresh produce such as yams and okro which could fetch the country much foreign exchange if produced with the right production techniques coupled with the right transportation systems.
On the infrastructure gap in Ghana's export trade business, Dr Asiedu, who has helped many developing and developed countries to shape their fresh produce business, said that was an area for private-public sector partnership to resolve.
“In other parts of the world, the infrastructure is a full-time business. One person should not do everything along the fresh produce export chain,” he said adding that the government could facilitate the process with subsidies, guarantees and policies.
He said getting the export business right was the stepping stone for entering into the processing zone which would help the country to avoid waste.
The President of FAGE, Mr Tony Sikpa, said having created awareness on the market, the exporters umbrella body would now position its members to take advantage of existing opportunities and international protocols such as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) from the U.S and the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) about to be signed between Ghana as part of a larger African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, on one hand, and the European Union (EU) on the other.
He said such training programmes were still necessary as the standards get ever higher even with the international protocols.
“The timing is right because there are a lot of opportunities to do exports. But we have to get it right from the start else we will destroy the opportunity forever.
The export trade business is fragile with high standards. The mistake of a single exporter could affect the image of entire country as an export nation.
The training will also provide skills for the participants to keep proper farm records to encourage traceability of their produce.