The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is rolling out technology to reduce the rejection of Ghana’s food export commodities on the European Union Market.
Known as the e-Traceability system, it will support product quality improvement for goods ready for export to enhance its market entry.
Traceability means that when a product or service is exported, and there is a challenge, it must be traced back to the origin.
This gives assurance and protection to the consumers in the market to believe that when they consume products from anywhere in the world, they are safe, and even if something happens, they can trace it back and take corrective measures.
Stakeholders say it will develop competitiveness in processed mango and pineapple, cassava and cosmetics and body care products on the international market.
The mechanism feeds into Ghana’s ten-year National Export Development Strategy to increase its non-traditional export revenue to $25.3 billion by 2029.
At a sensitization workshop in Kumasi, stakeholders and industry players observed there have been a lot of efforts into the implementation of the new National Export Development Strategy (NEDS), which was launched in October 2020.
The Manual System
After the European Union banned some fruits and vegetables from Ghana from entering its market, the food and agriculture ministry started manual inspection of goods before export.
Though effective, it had some gaps that needed to be filled.
“We were using the manual traceability system, which was quite cumbersome and therefore the need to go electronic to facilitate the process and so the assistance being given is to enable PPRSD to do e-traceability, which is the electronic version of what used to be done.
“That will be able to facilitate exports and compliance measures have been improved,” the Director Projects at Ghana Export and Promotions, Alexander Dadzawa, said.
The gaps identified in the manual system meant the country lost significant revenue because of its repercussions after the rejection.
“Most exporters just buy from the market or aggregators and export, now when there is an issue you will not be able to trace back where actually the products were produced”, Head of Plant Quarantine Division of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate at MOFA, Prudence Atipoe, said.
“So with the manual system, there were issues, but for the e-traceability system, you could trace back to the exact spot that the plant or product were produced.
The New System
The new electronic tracking system is expected to replace the manual system to ensure that flagged products are traced to the exact farm.
The target is that all producers and processors, even in the countryside, will be reached so that it doesn’t matter where the product is coming from, whether from the remotest areas of Ghana, once it is going to be part of the product that is going to be exported, it must come under the traceability.
Director Projects at Ghana Export and Promotions, Alexander Dadzawa says this will be fully implemented by the end of 2023.
“It is about market entry; if you are not able to send your products into the market and certainly you will be able to get revenue. The assurance that the market gets from us that we can put this system in place we open more doors for us to ensure that we export more”.
The E – Traceability technology focuses its efforts on Ghanaian Shea and Coconut-based cosmetic products, cassava, mango, and pineapples.
Mr Dadzawa says the objective is for Ghana to achieve increased export revenue.
“…it means we must sell quality products to the international market. Concerns have been raised severally about the quality of products consumed and these days people are careful about their health,…so they are careful about everything that is exported into their country, ensuring that it can meet their market requirements”.
For him, this has become imperative in all markets and more so on the European Market, Ghana’s biggest market.
The West Africa Competitive Programme (WACOMP) under the project aimed at strengthening Food Control Systems in Ghana.
The WACOMP programme is designed to assist Ghana in taking more advantage of opportunities in the EU market within the framework of the Economic Partnership Agreement that Ghana has signed with the EU, which partnership should inure to the mutual benefit of Ghana the EU countries.
With the financial support of GEPA under WACOMP, the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services has already conducted mapping exercises of the three selected value chains in the various regions.
Prudence Atipoe is Head of the Plant Quarantine Division of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate at MOFA.
“With the electronic system, when there are issues, we could sort it out with the farmer as to whether the product got spoilt or what happened could be traced and mitigations are sorted out before next planting season.
“If there are pest issues, we could find out what really caused the challenge within the production period or on the farm”.
Regional Director of Agriculture, Rev John Manu, says the initiative will position made-in-Ghana products and services within the EU.
He adds that the region has grouped farmers in specific crops to take advantage of the benefit of the new system.
“as far as this program is concerned, we have grouped our farmers with support from GEPA, where we have farmers who are targeting specific crops; the idea is to add value to these crops so that we can process them and export them”.
Meanwhile, GEPA has since early February 2020 been implementing several activities under the WACOMP with grant funding from the European Union.
The GEPA will continue to facilitate the training and capacity building of SMEs through our flagship programme, which is called the GEPA Export School on all aspects of export trade, including product quality, market requirements, packaging and labelling, to ensure that we take advantage of every market opportunity that exists.