TOWARDS PEST FREE VEGETABLES FOR THE EU MARKET

ELSEWHERE in this issue, we have published news about the decision by the European Union (EU), to review the ban placed on Ghana, on the exportation of some vegetables to the EU market.

The news must have come as a very good news to all Ghanaians, especially farmers who must be most affected by the unfortunate decision.

The affected vegetables are pepper, bottle gourd luffa, gourd, bitter gourd and aubergines.

In September 2015, the EU placed a ban on some five vegetables claiming that they contain pest.

Following the ban, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), announced a ban on exports of the five vegetables to the EU market.

It explained, that the ban would be in place until all issues on interceptions by the Food and Vegetable Office (PVO), of the European Commission, were resolved.

Thankfully, the EU has announced that an audit would be conducted and if the results are positive, then the ban would be lifted from January 1, 2017.

According to the Head of Economic and Trade section at the Delegation of the EU to Ghana, Mr Christian Peters, the EU was working with all stakeholders, towards improving the quality of the vegetables to ensure that they meet the safety standards of the EU market.

Speaking at a day’s workshop on Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling (TRAQUE), programme held at the weekend, at Busua, in the Western Region, he explained that, it was important for Ghana, to ensure it took the opportunity to work to attain the standard in order to access the EU market.

Indeed, the ban on the vegetables exportation to the EU market is a dent on the image of the country and particularly, the farmers who produce vegetables for export.

The implication of the ban is that, Ghana is losing foreign exchange and cannot take advantage of the preference tariffs agreed under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between ECOWAS and the EU.

Ghana as well as other members of the ECOWAS, signed the EPA with the EU, that provides businesses in the sub-region with tariff preferences and better competitive position on the EU and the regional market.

It, therefore, must be a difficult thing for Ghana, to have lost the opportunity to export the affected vegetables to the EU market.  What it also means is loss of jobs.

The Times is delighted that there is going to an audit in September,-exactly a year since the ban was imposed to see whether the farmers have taken the necessary steps to produce high quality vegetables for export.

We are hopeful that, the government and all stakeholders have taken the necessary measures for the farmers to adhere to the standards for the production of the vegetables.

It is important to remind all of us that, we have signed a trade pact with the EU which we must endeavour to take full advantage off.

The farmers must also, be well schooled and the MOFA must intensify its supervisory role to ensure that they adhered to the standards, in order to produce acceptable vegetables for exports to the EU market.

That would guarantee the country some foreign exchange and generate employment for the youth.

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