The European Union (EU), has lifted a ban it placed on export of five Ghanaian vegetables to the EU Market.
On 13 October, 2015, the European Commission decided to prohibit the introduction of the five vegetables into EU market for not meeting European standards.
But a statement copied to Citi Business News on November 7, 2017, indicated that “from 1st January 2018, Ghanaian farmers will be able to resume exports of all plant commodities to the European Union (EU) market”.
The five vegetables are chilli pepper, bottle gourds, luffa gourds, bitter gourds and eggplants.
According to the statement, exports of the vegetables will also have duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market like any other product from Ghana.
Meanwhile, the 5 commodities would have to fulfill the EU phytosanitary legislation to ensure the freedom of quarantine pests.
This decision follows an audit undertaken by the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission, and the evolution of the numbers of import interceptions with quarantine pests, notified by Member States for commodities not subject to the ban.
“Since the beginning of the ban in October 2015, the Ghanaian authorities have taken significant corrective measures to improve the inspection and control system for plant health at exit points, in particular at Kotoka International Airport. The European Commission congratulates Ghana for reaching this important milestone and encourages Ghana to consolidate the upgraded system and to continue further improvements in the phytosanitary certification system to obtain full compliance with the EU phytosanitary requirements,” it observed.
It pointed out that, the outcome has been possible due to combined efforts of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Service Department (PPRSD), and coordinated support from several development partners including the European Union through the Trade related Assistance and Quality Enabling programme (TRAQUE).
Others are the German International Cooperation (GIZ), the Netherlands Embassy through the GhanaVeg project and USAID.
“This harmonized approach has been instrumental to reach the objective of complying with EU requirements this year”.
It added that the resumption of exports of all plant commodities to the EU market will enable Ghana to fully benefit from the 100% preferential access to the EU market provided by the Stepping Stone Economic Partnership Agreement, which entered into force on 15 December 2016.
From 2012 to 2015, the number of intercepted plants from Ghana at the EU borders due to the presence of harmful organisms had increased significantly, leading Ghana to face the highest number of interceptions globally in 2015.
On 13 October, 2015, the European Commission decided to prohibit the introduction of 5 plant commodities from Ghana into the EU market until end of December 2016. The ban was purposely restricted to those commodities that have had the highest number of interceptions.
The five concerned plants were chilli pepper, bottle gourds, luffa gourds, bitter gourds and eggplants. Following an audit undertaken in September 2015, a decision was taken by the European Commission to renew the ban by one year until December 2017.
Over the past years, the Plant protection and Regulatory Service Department (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has received support from several development partners notably to improve the inspection and control system at the airport, to improve traceability as well as to develop and implement the Ghana Green Label Scheme.
Coordination of the received support has been successfully done through the SPS Task Force setup and chaired by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.