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The Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture have introduced a new Standard Operational Procedures for export inspection and phyto sanitary certification of vegetables, fruits and plants.

In a workshop funded by the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling Programme (TRAQUE) with exporters in Accra, the Directorate outlined these new procedures as part of reforms being rolled out to help Ghana come out of the ban on some vegetable exports imposed by the European Union.

International expert on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and author of the Procedures, Jose Maria Guitian was optimistic of the impact these new SOPs will have on fruit and vegetable exporters in Ghana.

He said, “In this document are the requirements of modern EU laws on plant and fruit exports, therefore this will help exporters to be of the know of what is expected of them in trying to export to the European Union market”. He also said, “PPRSD officers at the various exit points have been trained on these new laws as well which will enable them to make sure that fruits and vegetables leaving the shores of Ghana for exports are 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) have been intercepted at various entry points in the EU market with pests’ issues.

However, in September last year, auditors from the Food and Vegetable Office (PVO) of the European Commission came to Ghana to review this ban and possibly lift it. Unfortunately, Ghana still didn’t meet the standards by the European Commission thereby extending the ban.

Therefore these new Standard Procedures will tackle the inefficiencies in the system highlighted by the audit team from the EU. The document addresses: general requirements for export, inspection procedure, issue of phytosanitary certificate, investigation of non-compliance and traceability.

Mr. William Lamptey, a Phytosanitary Inspector at the PPRSD was elated by this latest assistance by the EU funded TRAQUE Programme and believes it is 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 (5) vegetables that were banned before they get to the international market.”

As part of its mandate of improving the capacity of Ghana for trade policy analysis and the upgrading of quality institutions to cope with requirements posed by TBT and SPS agreements in export trade, the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling Programme (TRAQUE) has also equipped the PPRSD with autoclaves, incubators, weight measurement devices, soil analyzers and general laboratory equipment to make their work efficient.