25 September 2015 – Today, CABI is launching a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to help Ghana break down trade barriers and improve its horticulture export abilities, delivering a much-needed boost to the country’s trade following a ban on vegetable exports. The partnership aims to help Ghana’s farmers meet food safety standards, connect with European markets and rebuild their livelihoods. It is hoped the project also brings macro-level benefits in employment, fiscal revenue and foreign ­exchange. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs is funding the project 50% with the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana actively supporting the commercial vegetable sector through its GhanaVeg programme.

Many farmers in Ghana grow and export different types of Asian vegetable for income, but faced significant financial losses in 2014 and 2015 when their horticultural produce fell below European Union (EU) food safety and plant health (phytosanitary) standards. After numerous interceptions by the EU, Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture imposed a ban on its own vegetable exports, leading to a negative financial impact on Ghana’s farmers. This ban was lifted in early 2015, but further European interceptions led to the EU placing a provisional ban on Ghana’s vegetable imports until 31 December 2016.

This four-year CABI-led PPP will work with the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Division (PPRSD) of Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture to address these challenges. The aim is to strengthen the enforcement of government regulations and enhance technical expertise through extensive knowledge sharing on food safety and phytosanitary standards, proper use of agricultural inputs, like seeds and pesticides, and good agricultural practices and business conduct.

Working with farmers will form an important part of the project. Small-scale farmers will be helped to meet standards through training in good agricultural practices and affordable integrated pest management principles. Through the right coaching, farmers will be able to effectively implement preventive measures, avoid pest outbreaks in their crops and reduce use of pesticides. The anticipated increased productivity should lead to a rise in farmer incomes, with knock-on benefits in living standards and health.

Key to the partnership is collaboration with GAVEX – an association representing Ghanaian vegetable exporting companies whose top five members represent 95% of vegetable exports from Ghana. The 3,500 farmers supplying GAVEX mostly have low incomes with the majority operating a maximum of two acres (0.8 ha). Coordinating the activities of GAVEX and the farmers who supply it will stop food contaminations occurring in the food supply chain, increase capacity building between exporters and farmers, and help formalize business relationships through codes of conduct and export contracts.

The partnership also includes developing a new supply chain, exporting organically certified pineapples from Sunshine Organic Farms in Ghana to Eosta in the Netherlands and, through this, fostering new strategic trade alliances. Commercial farmers, government, exporters, Dutch importers, plant health experts and, over time, retailers will work together to overcome hurdles in the growth of the horticulture sector and thereby build systems that make farm produce meet the desired market standards at export destinations.

Dr. Victor Attuquaye Clottey, CABI Regional Coordinator, West Africa, says: “This will be a careful and thorough way of changing how we produce, harvest, handle and trade our agricultural commodities. There may be challenges, but they are worth tackling in order to strengthen all segments of our value chains.”

Mr. Hans Docter, Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, emphasized the changing relations between the Netherlands and Ghana, as Ghana’s economy grows rapidly and achieves middle income status: “We are moving away from a traditional aid relationship, towards a regular trade partner. In the horticultural sector Ghana and the Netherlands are natural partners: Ghana because of its rapidly growing demand for high-quality vegetables and huge potential for exports, and the Netherlands because it’s the second biggest exporter of vegetables in the world. The Netherlands has a lot to offer to Ghana in terms of technology and knowledge, which can benefit the entire vegetable sector of Ghana.”

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