As from 1st January 2018, Ghanaian farmers will be able to resume exports of all plant commodities to the European Union (EU) market.
This follows the European Commission's decision to lift the current ban on the exports of five plant commodities from Ghana to the European Union (EU) market on 31st October 2017, according to a statement from the EU.
The five Ghanaian plants (chilli pepper, bottle gourds, luffa gourds, bitter gourds and eggplants) will from 1 January 2018, have duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market like any other product from Ghana.
The five commodities will have to fulfil the EU phytosanitary legislation to ensure the freedom of quarantine pests.
This decision follows an audit undertaken from 12 to 21 September 2017 by the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission and the evolution of the numbers of import interceptions with quarantine pests notified by Member States for commodities not subject to the ban.
A statement from the European Union said, “Since the beginning of the ban in October 2015, the Ghanaian authorities have taken significant corrective measures to improve the inspection and control system for plant health at exit points, in particular at Kotoka International Airport.”
“The European Commission congratulates Ghana for reaching this important milestone and encourages Ghana to consolidate the upgraded system and to continue further improvements in the phytosanitary certification system to obtain full compliance with the EU phytosanitary requirements.”
The statement continued, “This outcome has been possible thanks to combined efforts of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Service Department (PPRSD) and coordinated support from several development partners including the European Union through the Trade related Assistance and Quality Enabling programme (TRAQUE), the German International Cooperation (GIZ), the Netherlands Embassy through the GhanaVeg project and USAID. This harmonised approach has been instrumental to reach the objective of complying with EU requirements this year.”
The resumption of exports of all plant commodities to the EU market will enable Ghana to fully benefit from the 100% preferential access to the EU market provided by the Stepping Stone Economic Partnership Agreement which entered into force on 15 December 2016.
Agric Minister on ban earlier
Dr. Afriyie Akoto earlier on said the ban of vegetables to the European market will be lifted by the end of November.
“Oh definitely, may be in the next one month, they’ve indicated to us unofficially that everything is ok now, we’ve put in so much effort in the nine month to correct all those things that were really hampering the progress in the lifting of the ban,” he said.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto said, “We’ve put reforms in place, we’ve changed personnel, and we’ve infused new qualified personnel into the system…so now we are that we are confident that we have a sustainable system to ensure good quality products to the European market.”
From 2012 to 2015, the number of intercepted plants from Ghana at the EU borders due to the presence of harmful organisms had increased significantly, leading Ghana to face the highest number of interceptions globally in 2015.
On 13 October, 2015, the European Commission decided to prohibit the introduction of 5 plant commodities from Ghana into the EU market until end of December 2016.
The ban was purposely restricted to those commodities that have had the highest number of interceptions.
The five concerned plants were chilli pepper, bottle gourds, luffa gourds, bitter gourds and eggplants. Following an audit undertaken in September 2015, decision was taken by the European Commission to renew the ban by one year until December 2017.
Over the past years, the Plant protection and Regulatory Service Department (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has received support from several development partners notably to improve the inspection and control system at the airport, to improve traceability as well as to develop and implement the Ghana Green Label Scheme.
Coordination of the received support has been successfully done through the SPS Task Force setup and chaired by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
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