The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) is to engage the services of personnel under the Nation Builders' Corps (NABCO), to help in an effort to extend its services to other parts of the country.
The Director General of the GSA, Prof. Alex Dodoo, who made this known at a workshop in Accra yesterday, said the personnel would be trained and posted to the various districts to provide GSA services there.
He expressed concern about how people had to travel to Accra to seek the services of the GSA, saying that "it was unfair for others to travel long hours and distances to Accra for the same services that others do not spend much on."
The workshop which was organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), in collaboration with the GSA, was aimed at promoting standards, specifically for exported mangoes and pineapples, as well as those for local consumption.
The workshop, which brought together producers and exporters of fruits, was to provide a platform for stakeholders in the industry to brainstorm on challenges and come up with solutions to meeting standards in their areas of operations.
Prof. Dodoo said the absence of GSA offices in the various districts, frustrated clients who were forced to travel the long distance to Accra for the authority's services, and added that some of the products went bad before they reached Accra for testing or certification due to the distance travelled.
Meanwhile, he said, the GSA was working on its online platform to decentralise its operations in a bid to address delays in the system and also make for more efficiency in its work.
The Director General said the country depended much on export but the ability to compete was influenced by meeting international standards, hence the need for those involved in producing and exporting products to be given the needed education.
He noted that people were either not obliging to the standards or they had no knowledge about them, hence the need for such workshops to build their capacity.
Prof. Dodoo said the GSA, for its part, needed to effectively engage clients and also make its services convenient, easier, faster and reliable.
Touching on the market for fruits, Prof. Dodoo indicated that mangoes had a huge market on the international market but much attention had not been given to it.
"Mangoes sell very well on the international market and we need to support the farmers in that sector to meet the quality for the export market. Currently, we are exporting only 17 per cent of what we could export", he said.
Demand fresh fruits
A member of the Agricultural Technical Committee of the GSA, Madam Emelia Monney, who was the resource person for the workshop, advised the public to demand for good quality fruits.
In accordance with standards, she said, fruits must not only be fresh and clean, they must also be presentable, packaged and labelled well, whether they were for local consumption or export.
She condemned the practice of displaying fruits on the floor and exposing them to the sun, pointing out that it was an unhealthy practice and did not give consumers value for their money.