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07.05.2005 General News

Ghana Yams Export By Air System

By Wallace - VENTURE CAPITALIST GROUP

The new yam export regulations are an appropriate application of public sector-private sector collaboration designed specifically to protect Ghanaian farmers and exporters; generate export revenues for the state; improve quality control; stabilize prices; develop and grow markets for a key natural resource; etc.

Any business, industry, or country for that matter, must attract investment in order to keep developing, improving and growing. Without growth, the result would be stagnation and regression especially in competitive environments and markets.

Under the new guidelines:

- Exporters will receive full payments up front in US dollars - Exporters, in turn, will be able to remit full payments to the yam farmers - All yams will now pass through a 'single-corridor' pack house ensuring adequate quality control by way of cleaning, packaging, sealing and labeling with bar code, and electronic scanning to prevent the use of yam exports as a conduit for nefarious activities - Yams will spend, on average, 48 hours in transit between Ghana and North America and another 1-2 days to arrive on the store shelves of the African grocers across the entire marketplace – from Toronto to New York to LA, etc. - Spoilage will be kept to a minimum given the very short transit times

Ghana yams are known to be of unparalleled quality and there is a tremendous demand throughout. However, the demand is not being satisfied and Ghana Fresh Yams are not effectively marketed given the consistently high levels of spoilage. The new system will certainly provide the opportunity to market Ghana Fresh Yam effectively, grow existing markets and expand into new markets, i.e. beyond the West African and West Indian communities. Why is it that Ghana Fresh Yams are not marketed to “mainstream” consumers throughout the North American market? Are they in any way inferior to the potatoes that are consumed by the millions every day in the US and Canada? Ghana Fresh Yams should be, and could be, a universally recognized brand name!

However, to do this you must attract the necessary investment. But, under the current structure the yam industry cannot attract the necessary investment because the risks are too high. No reasonable business person would invest capital into the importation of fresh yam via ocean knowing that each container may have 50%, 60%, 70% spoiled as has frequently happened over the months and years. Unless, of course, there are incentives other than selling Ghana yam?

The new system mandates that FULL payments be remitted up front for all yam exports in order to protect the yam farmers and exporters. Which importers are prepared to do that when shipping via ocean? And this begs the question: Are yam exporters seriously complaining about getting paid up front and in full? If so, why? If not, then who is complaining about the new system?

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