Exporters of vegetable crops are working in earnest along the value chain to ensure all exports are certified and meet international standards.
Largely, consumption of vegetable crops from Ghana has not really increased due to poor agricultural practices such as misapplication of chemicals for weeds and pests, the use of saved seeds by farmers among other practices.
These have also hindered the confidence Ghanaians have in purchasing vegetables. The concern is not different from the export market where consignments do not meet the EU standards.
A recent audit conducted in April 21 by the EU on sanitation and phytosanitation has indicated some worrying notification both on the farms and various consignment that hit the international market which if not taken seriously with some stringent action, could lead to a possible ban on export.
In view of this, GhanaVeg themed its 7TH Business Platform Meeting “Phytosanitation and Green Label Certification-The Way Forward”. It brought key stakeholders to discuss these challenges and find possible solutions on how to train farmers and farmer groups to adhere to good agricultural practices such as traceability, good record keeping and the right application of chemicals at its right stage and quantity.
The program leader of GhanaVeg, Mr. Joep van den Broek underscored: “GhanaVeg is here to support the vegetable sector to becomes innovative, competitive and efficient to meet the export market as well as boosting the confidence of the Ghanaian society so as to increase consumption of vegetable crops in Ghana’’.
Currently Ghana export about 4000 metric tonnes for export which can improve when exporters of both the private and public sector collaborate and conform to EU standards.
According to him, there is a huge market available which is not being exploited. He therefore encouraged exporters to have designated farms where they pick up their crops for export. Touching on the issue of certification, he said effort are under way to ensure the Ghana Green Label is launched to certify farmers to practice good agricultural practices.
Mr. van den Broek used the opportunity to encourage stakeholders to apply for the GhanaVeg funds in the areas of Private extension, innovative irrigation, input supply and vegetable value chain to better place the sector.
Gino Cecchini, from EDES-COLEAP, asked exporters to consider traceability from the field to consumer as key. In this sense, exporters would ensure that farmers are given the needed support to produce the best products for export.
Without traceability it would be difficult to race any problem along the chain and solve it, he explained.
He also identified the methodology used in identifying a problem before export as another challenge facing exporters: what problem is being looked for and what is being used to identify that problem?
According to Gino, exporters fail to take representative samples of their products to ensure that the entire products are of good quality for export.
President of Ghana Association of Vegetables Exporters (GAVEX) Mrs. Juliana Opuni,, told myjoyonline.com, the Association intentionally cut down on the volume of export to ensure that members export the quantity they can manage to avoid sub-standard products.
Members are concentrating on increasing workforce, teaching farmers what to do to get the right products.
“Notification is coming down but a lot more could be done to prevent the European Union, our major market, from banning us,” she acknowledged.
The Managing Proprietress of Joekopan Enterprise identified lack of adequate cooling facilities, poor road network and transportation in general as some of the challenges facing the growth of the sector.
GhanaVeg is an initiative of The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in line with efforts towards prioritizing commercial agriculture in its 4-years Multi-Annual Strategic Plan (2014-2017).
The Initiatives’ mission is to establish a sustainable and internationally competitive vegetable sector that contributes to inclusive economic growth and has the capacity to continuously innovate in terms of products and services.
GhanaVeg is driven by a strong belief in healthy and quality vegetables from Ghana through new ways of doing business.