Professor Alex Dodoo, Director-General of the Ghana Standard Authority, (GSA) has urged agriculture and food exporters to consult the Authority for the needed export quality advice to ensure their produce are acceptable on the international market.
He said food safety and quality requirements were things that could not be overlooked “if we want to break into foreign markets. This means that we need to strictly adhere to quality issues and food safety requirement”.
Speaking at a workshop on “Quality Infrastructure Services for Agriculture and Food exports”, Prof Dodoo said it was critical for all stakeholders to come together to find common answers on how agricultural produce in the country could be made to conform to applicable standards for export to international markets”.
“If exports are rejected, exporters lose money, Ghana loses face and it means, GSA is not doing its work well. So exporters should contact the GSA and other regulatory bodies for directions. We are here to serve you, and it means even if you don’t have money”, Prof Dodoo noted.
The workshop forms part of an on-going programme, dubbed “strengthening of the quality infrastructure system to increase the competitiveness of agricultural export products, being implemented in Ghana with funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, for a three year period.
The stakeholders were brought together to share experiences, assess gaps identified in the production processes and develop strategies to improve the quality and safety-related services, offered to partners within and outside the country.
They were also to identify quality infrastructure, necessary to propel agro-industrial value chain processes.
The Physikalisch-Technishe Bundesanstalt (PTB), an implementation agency of the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), is collaborating with GSA to implement the programme that aims at strengthening the range and utilisation of services for the quality assurance of agricultural products.
It particularly focuses on processed products for export, that increases the competitiveness of Ghanaian producers in international markets and at the same time ensures the provision of high-quality products for the population.
Prof Dodoo said, ensuring quality infrastructure services for Ghana’s economy was important because it was the only way by which the outputs of quality agricultural produce, whether for the domestic market or for export, could be guaranteed.
He stated that for the One-District One-Factory (ID1F) project being rolled out by government under the private sector-led growth, to be successful, then stakeholders like farmers and food processors, should be involved and integrated into the value chain in order to meet the requirement of foreign markets.
He said members of the Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE) and some fruits farmers were being trained under the projects to sensitise them on quality and safety measures in the food value chain.
Mrs Gifty Ohene-Konandu, National Coordinator of the 1D1F, noted that, the need to build quality infrastructure to support Ghana’s industrialisation drive was a pre-requisite to sustain socio-economic growth and development.
She said as a private sector led initiative, the 1D1F programme, sought to achieve value addiction, and increase export revenues, and as an important substitution strategy, it must ensure that production output met local and international requirements.
“As we look at exploring the local and global market, we must bear in mind that there is fierce competition, and therefore manufactured product must meet local and international requirement. Moreover, ensuring compliance of products and services requires consistent networks from raw material production to processing and finally to consumption stage”, she noted.
She however gave the assurance that, in order to achieve standardization output, the 1D1F secretariat was working closely with key stakeholders, including the GSA, Food and Drugs Authority, and the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure stringent compliance to products quality, product safety and good environmental health principles.
“These stakeholder institutions are expected to provide conformity assessment, testing, and quality management services, including certification and accreditation to products that will be manufactured by factories under the 1D1F initiative, she explained.
Ms Carola Heider, Project Coordinator of PTB said the current project draws on the results and experiences of previous PTB projects done on the food quality and safety in Ghana since 12 years ago, together with the GSA.
She said the project involved awareness raising of all stakeholders and institutionalized exchange between them.
The PTB would use a special method for the analysis of value chains with focus on the requirements placed on quality infrastructure and would also train the stakeholders in the method, she noted.