Ghana’s horticultural sector has witnessed a significant transformation in recent times due to some corrective measures put up government with the support of its development partners and stakeholders in the country.
A typical example of such measures is the introduction of the inspection and control system for plant health at exit points, especially at Kotoka International Airport which contributed to the lifting of a ban by the European Commission in October, 2015 on exports of five plant commodities from Ghana into the European Union(EU) market on 31st October 2017.
The ban lifted on Ghana’s vegetable sector as from 1st January 2018, has enabled the country to benefit from the 100% preferential access to the EU market provided by the Stepping Stone Economic Partnership Agreement which came into force on December 15, 2016.
One of such developmental partners whose immense contribution has led to the achievement of the feat which gave Ghana’s vegetable sector a relief was the erstwhile GhanaVeg, which metamorphosed into HortiFresh program recently.
In recognition of their valuable contribution to the sector’s growth, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, in charge of Horticulture, Hon. George Oduro lauded the HortiFresh Program, urging the private sector, the farmers and all other stakeholders in the vegetable sector to give it the necessary support to achieve its objective in the country.
“Over the past 4 years, GhanaVeg which preceded the HortiFresh made a significant impact on the vegetable landscape in Ghana. “Not only has it sponsored the training of the Master Agronomics to assist the sector actors working with the Horticulture taskforce that aided in the lifting of the band, but also supported 29 companies to build projects across the entire value chain as well as working with research institutions in the country to address the sector challenges”, the Minister stated.
While acknowledging the roles played by other development partners that led to the transformation of the sector, Hon. George Oduro encouraged the private sector to effectively collaborate with the Ministry to promote Agriculture towards realization of Ghana beyond Aids agenda.
He further lauded the efforts put in place by the by the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate(PPRSD) at the air and seaports to avoid a future ban on fruits or vegetables. He encouraged all fruits and vegetable exporting companies to join an Association and follow the stringent crop management, tracking and tracing protocols that have been developed recently.
The Hon. Deputy Minister made this known while delivering his keynote address at the “First Business Platform meeting” held at the Mensvic Hotel in Accra on Thursday, November 29, 2018.
The event an initiative of HortiFresh, brought together stakeholders to discuss domestic standards and export requirements within the horticulture sector of Ghana. It also served as an avenue to explore business opportunities in the domestic and export market, with a focus on new crops, processing and alternative marketing arrangements.
In his presentation on the topic: “Increasing Horticulture Exports”, Deputy Director, Head of Plant Quarantine Division of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate(PPRSD), Prudence Attipoe highlighted the various measures his outfit has put in place to regulate the agriculture/horticulture sector which farmers ought to comply with to boost export.
He called for the implementation of more policies to help revolutionize the sector effectively.
Mr. Attipoe appealed to all farmers to endeavour to work on their packaging and labelling to make their products attractive and healthy for export.
While appreciating the roles played by HortiFresh and other key partners in improving the horticulture sector, the PPRSD boss called on HortiFresh to help provide cold store vans to aid farmers to transport their produce safely from the farm to the airport to maintain its freshness.
The Programme Manager of HortiFresh, Mrs. Sheila Assibey-Yeboah, used the occasion to outline the core activities of the New HortiFresh programme. These include supporting innovative business ideas of small and medium enterprises, encouraging more youth participation in the horticulture sector, and developing strong horticulture clusters in those hotspots of tomato, onion and mango production.
During the event, breakout sessions were organized to explore new business opportunities like diversification of export crops, adding value through processing and alternative marketing arrangements. The discussions will be fed back into the investment agenda of HortiFresh that contains a number of loan facilities and co-financing grant schemes in support of the horticulture private sector.
The HortiFresh Business Platform meeting is an event organized quarterly to bring together key service providers, producers, processes, traders, wholesalers and retailers in the fruit and vegetable sector in Ghana. These stakeholders provide advice on the course and the direction of the HortiFresh Programme in terms of sector activities and how available funding opportunities can be used to improve the sector.
HortiFresh is a program supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands which has prioritized commercial agriculture in its strategic plan of moving from aid to trade. The programme’s mission is to establish “a sustainable and internationally competitive fruit and vegetable sector that contributes to inclusive economic growth, food and nutrition security” in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The Programme aims to reach 15,000 farmers and increase their productivity by 20% by 2021.