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Business News Thu, 31 Aug 2006

More horticulture produce from Ghana being rejected - MOFA

Accra, Aug. 31, GNA - Pest infestation in Ghana's fresh fruits and vegetables meant for international markets is increasing, leading to the interception by trading partners, mostly in the European Union markets. Mr. Vesper Suglo, Director, Plant Protection and Regulatory Services, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), who said this in Accra on Thursday named some of the produce, which were recently intercepted as egg plants, cassava and sweet potato leaves, mangoes, jute mallows, melons and tinda.


He said between May 31 and July 4 this year, the Plant Health Division of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom intercepted a series of consignments exported from Ghana to the UK "because of the presence of prohibited harmful organisms found on these fresh produce".


He explained that these contaminated exported produce, including 212 boxes of egg plants, 104 boxes of tinda, 76 boxes of bottle gourd and 21 jute and cassava boxes were all destroyed by the UK officials. Speaking at a stakeholders' meeting to discuss how to control pest infestations to enable Ghana's horticulture produce meet international standards, Mr. Suglo said the UK officials had already notified Ghana through a letter requesting for information on measures being put in place to address the situation.


Participants, including regulators, exporters, producers and fright forwarders are attending the meeting. Mr. Clement Eledi, Deputy Minister in-charge Crops, MOFA, blamed all stakeholders in the horticulture industry, including the Ministry, for failing to put measures that would ensure that the rights produce were exported to the EU markets.


He said, though Ghana was addressing these challenges, it was not chalking much success because both the public authorities and private enterprises were ill-prepared and not well equipped to meet these high quality requirements.


He therefore, stressed the need for training for staff at the entry points in newly introduced quarantine pests so that they could conduct their activities more professionally.

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Mr Eledi charged the participants to critically examine all constraints militating against the industry in meeting the phyto-sanitary (test/inspection conducted at entry points) and private sanitary standards (random sampling tests carried out, both at point of entry and within the country) requirement of importing countries. He also asked the National Horticultural Task Force to follow up and ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the meeting at the various levels of the horticultural industry.


Mr. Peter Maxwell Biney, Head of Pesticide Management Division, MOFA, who gave a field assessment on farmers' practices in production and exports of fresh produce noted that a recent survey carried out on selected farms in the Greater Accra, Central and Eastern Regions revealed poor knowledge of farmers in pest problems and identification. He said that made most of them to misuse and misapply pesticides wrongly and more frequently than it should be while some used expired pesticides.


He asked that farmers of various horticulture produces should form commodity crop associations at the district levels so that they could be well trained in practices that would help them produce quality standard produces.


Mr. Mawuli Agboka, team leader of the Horticulture Exports Industry Initiative, MOFA, said immediate efforts needed to be made to improve the quality of horticulture exports to the international markets to avoid Ghana being blacklisted. He said Government with the support of the World Bank had already started putting up a post-harvest facility at the Tema Port at four-million-dollar, which would be completed in December to enable exporters to have a conducive atmosphere to operate their services.


He said a design of a similar project to be sited at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) had been developed and the facility would soon be put up under the Millennium Challenge Account. 31 Aug. 06

Source: GNA
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