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‘2-Year Ban Killing Our Business’
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At a time Ghanaian vegetable producers and exporters are weeping over their huge losses, the European Business Organisation (EBO) has clarified that the ban on vegetables exports to the European Union (EU) was imposed at the request of the Government of Ghana.

The ban, which was imposed in September 2015, was supposed to be temporal, but it is yet to be lifted and vegetables exporters have incurred huge losses during the two-year ban.

It is important to note that the EU is Ghana’s biggest export market.

The ban remains in place until all issues on interceptions by the Food and Vegetable Office (PVO) of the European Commission (EC) are addressed.

According to the Organisation, the European Union only raised concerns about the diseases found on Ghanaian vegetables exported to the EU market and wanted government to address the situation.

Ghana opted for ban

In response to concerns, the Organisation revealed that the Plant Protection and Regulatory Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture imposed the ban on all vegetables from entering the EU market to enable the government of Ghana address the concerns raised.

Speaking to Business Finder, Mr Nico van Staalduinen, Managing Director of European Business Organisation, therefore, explained that it is wrong for anyone to state that it was the EU that banned Ghanaian vegetables from entering the EU market.

EU’s concerns

He indicated that the concerns mainly surround issue of fungus, animals and diseases found on Ghana’s vegetables.

“The main reasons are that the checks on pesticides residue are not well done. For example, not spraying in the last 10 days to harvesting but some farmers flout it. Also control on food flies and other animals is also not good enough.”

“China and the United States also ban vegetables and fruits from Ghana from their market for failing to meet international production standards after PPRSD opted to be banned by the EU.”

Interceptions reported

In 2015, 30 per cent of interceptions reported by the EC were attributable to the presence of the false coding moth in Chillies, 24 per cent is as result of thrips on Garden Eggs and related family and 18 per cent is due to presence of thrips on Turia and related family.

Some of the affected vegetables

The affected vegetables include: Capsicum, Solanum species - Aubergines, Momordica, Luffa and Lagenaria (gourd family) which accordingly have undesired consequences for the country’s export vegetable sector.

Ghana tops banned vegetables

According to him, Ghana has the highest number of products banned from entering the EU market.

EU experts in town for assessment

Currently, he said there is a visit of an EU expert in place and the results have been given to the Ghanaian PPRD, he indicated that the current ban would automatically end by the end of the year and on January 4, 2018 a new regulation will be put in place.

Ghana failed assessment in March 2017

He recalled that the result of a similar test conducted in March this year indicated that the situation has not changed to warrant the lifting of the ban. Ghana’s annual import to the EU is worth $10 million annually.

Vegetables Producers and Exporters weep

In an interview with Business Finder, Mr Joseph Tontoh, President of the Vegetables Producers and Exporters Association of Ghana said the ban has had a tremendous effect on its members since most of their products were for export.

“Since we are not exporting most of them are home and financially retarded with others not knowing what to do. We are just praying and hoping that all the measures we have put in place will help the EU lift the ban,” he added.

Efforts to get ban lifted

He said as part of its effort to get the ban lifted, the Association together with PPRSD formed task forces to go around and educate its members and have received training from various institutions.

The Plant Protection and Regulatory Directorate (PPRSD) of MoFA was also to ban exporters of fresh vegetables not belonging to registered associations or recognised by the directorate and sourcing from unregistered farms.

Airline operators face sanctions

Airline operators and agencies under the Ghana Revenue Authority were warned not to permit exporters to add any produce without approval from PPRSD.

All plant products regulated articles being shipped from Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and the Tema Port, should be inspected and certified by PPRSD as well as validate airway bills before delivering to the airline and collaborate with relevant agencies to address the endemic issue of false coding.

The PPRSD inspects and regulates farms sourced by exporters to ensure that vegetables are supplied from farms with no history of false coding moth infestation.

PPRSD was to review and enforce laid down standard operating procedures for effective monitoring of the supply chain.

The directives have been taken because in 2012 an audit team from FVO of EC was in Ghana in response of interceptions of exports, due to the presence of pest in the products.

The team also identified lack of proper documentation for exports which were not acted upon after visits by PPRSD and Exporters Association in that year or brought to the notice of the then minister and subsequent ministers.
Source: The Finder

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