Vegetable exports from Ghana resume after work to improve phytosanitary system
CABI’s work in partnership to improve Ghana’s phyosanitary systems means vegetable exports worth $15 million a year are continuing once again after the lifting of a Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission ban imposed in 2015.
The lifting of the suspension, imposed due to concerns about the management of four quarantine pests including false codling moth, whitefly, thrips and fruit fly, means Ghana is exporting chili peppers, bottle gourds, luffa gourds, bitter gourds and eggplants to Europe once more.
As part of a €1.8 million project – part-funded by CABI and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the private sector – CABI is helping to protect the livelihood of Ghana’s vegetable growers by improving its technical and organizational capacity in the entire horticulture supply chain.
Working with partners including the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana, and the Ghana Association of Vegetable Exporters (GAVEX), CABI helped streamline the inspection and export certification as part of its improved phytosanitary systems. This included:
• Enhancing protocols and standard operating procedures in production and assisting in upgrading and construction of sorting, inspection and packing facilities
• Promoting good agricultural practices in the vegetable production chain
• Training farmers, exporters, aggregators, GAVEX technical staff, students and PPRSD staff in quarantine pest surveillance systems, data collection and analysis, and reporting.
One farmer benefiting from the lifting of the ban is Ernest Joe Agidi of Ada Irrigation Co-operative Farmers Association who has a 12-acre farm producing Chili pepper, Egg-plant (Ravaya) and Okra.
Ernest Joe Agidi said, “The lifting of the ban will allow me to start producing Chilies and Asian vegetables for export again. The Asian vegetables are not preferred by most Ghanaian consumers and we grow them mainly for the export market. I will be able to make more income to pay my workers, my children school fees and also invest in other ventures apart from my farming business.”
Walter Hevi, CABI’s Project Manager in Ghana, said CABI was invited in early 2016 to join the Export Task Force established by the Minister of Food and Agriculture to collectively solve the phytosanitary issues facing the vegetable sub-sector in a way to ensure that the EU ban was lifted.
“At nearly 40% of GDP, agriculture is the largest sector of Ghana’s economy and part of this is the vegetable trade with the potential to create as many as 20,000 skilled jobs and increase exports to the EU,” Walter said. “Working in partnership, CABI has helped to bring improvements to the country’s phytosanitary systems – which, in itself, is an important step forward in our overall mission to help end poverty and bring about zero hunger as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Some of CABI’s contributions to the improvements included producing and distributing posters on pests management to help train vegetable exporters and their out-growers on how to manage the four quarantine pests, distribution of insect traps for pest monitoring and provision of laboratory equipment to PPRSD.
Ebenezer Aboagye Head of Crop Pest and Disease Management Division at the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana, said, “The project has improved the shortcomings in the phytosanitary export certification system in Ghana. The current phytosanitary safeguards are sufficient to ensure that Asian vegetables from Ghana destined for EU will be free from harmful organisms.”
Alex Akuffo, Treasurer at GAVEX, said, “I pack produce harvested from my farm and my out-growers farms in my house. I am very happy the project is assisting me with 50% funding to build a sorting and packing facility at the production site of my out-growers. This will help me adhere to the standard operations procedure in my postharvest handling processes to export a clean and healthy produce to the EU market.”
CABI is an international not-for-profit organization that improves people’s lives by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.
Through knowledge sharing and science, CABI helps address issues of global concern such as improving global food security and safeguarding the environment. We do this by helping farmers grow more and lose less of what they produce, combating threats to agriculture and the environment from pests and diseases, protecting biodiversity from invasive species, and improving access to agricultural and environmental scientific knowledge. Our 48 member countries guide and influence our core areas of work, which include development and research projects, scientific publishing and microbial services.
We gratefully acknowledge the core financial support from our member countries (and lead agencies) including the United Kingdom (Department for International Development), China (Chinese Ministry of Agriculture), Australia (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research), Canada (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), Netherlands (Directorate-General for International Cooperation, and Switzerland (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation).