The Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has introduced a new standard operational procedures for export inspection and phytosanitary certification of vegetables, fruits and plants.
The procedure was part of reforms rolled out to help the country to come out of the ban on some vegetable exports imposed by the European Union (EU).
This was contained in a document made available to the Ghana News Agency at a workshop funded by the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling Programme (TRAQUE) with exporters in Accra.
Jose Maria Guitian, an international expert on sanitary and phytosanitary measures said the procedures would impact positively on the growth of fruit and vegetable exporters in the country.
He said the document outlined the requirements of modern EU laws on plant and fruit exports intended to help exporters to know what is expected of them in trying to export to the EU market.
Mr. Guitian noted that the directorate officers at the various exit points were trained on the new laws to ensure that fruits and vegetables leaving the shores of the country for exports were of high quality and pests free.
In September 2015, the EU placed a ban on some five vegetables citing their unwholesome for their markets and consumption.
The affected vegetables; capsicum, solanum species, aubergines and luffa (gourd family) had been intercepted at various entry points in the EU market with pest issues.
However, in September 2016, auditors from the Food and Vegetable Office of the European Commission came to the country to review the ban and possibly lift it.
Unfortunately, Ghana still did not meet the standards by the European Commission thereby extending the ban.
Mr Guitian explained that these new Standard Procedures would tackle the inefficiencies in the system highlighted by the audit team from the EU, saying the document addresses general requirements for export, inspection procedure, issue of phytosanitary certificate, investigation of non-compliance and traceability.
William Lamptey, a phytosanitary inspector at the PPRSD expressed satisfaction on the assistance by the EU funded TRAQUE Programme and believed it was one of the major factors to prepare their staff and other stakeholders for a future audit by the European Commission.
He said, “We want to strengthen the phytosanitary controls at the airports, therefore this assistance will help our inspectors to be able to detect critical harmful organisms on the five vegetables that were banned before they get to the international market.”
Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling Programme (TRAQUE) has equipped the PPRSD with autoclaves, incubators, weight measurement devices, soil analysers and general laboratory equipment to make their work efficient.
The move was part of its mandate of improving the capacity of the country’s trade policy analysis and the upgrading of quality institutions to cope with requirements posed by agreements in export trade.